scorecardLive results: Brandon Johnson defeats Paul Vallas in the Chicago mayoral runoff election
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Live results: Brandon Johnson defeats Paul Vallas in the Chicago mayoral runoff election

John L. Dorman   

Live results: Brandon Johnson defeats Paul Vallas in the Chicago mayoral runoff election
PoliticsPolitics2 min read
  • Brandon Johnson defeated Paul Vallas in the Chicago mayoral runoff, according to DDHQ and Insider.
  • The two candidates ran to succeed Lori Lightfoot, who was denied a second term in February.

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson defeated former Chicago Public Schools chief executive Paul Vallas in Tuesday's Chicago mayoral runoff election, according to DDHQ and Insider.

The race was defined by voter concerns over public safety, education, and the state of the city's economy three years after the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson will succeed Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who was the third-place finisher in the initial Feb. 28 mayoral election behind Vallas and Johnson, respectively, missing her chance to compete in the runoff.

Polls in Chicago closed at 7 p.m. local time.

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A huge test for the progressive wing of the Democratic party

In the initial February election, Vallas won 32.9% of the vote and Johnson secured 21.6% support, while Lightfoot earned roughly 17% of the vote, with the incumbent mayor missing the cutoff for the runoff.

The win by Johnson — a former public school teacher and organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union — is a soaring accomplishment for progressives in Chicago and across the country. He was backed by prominent national figures including Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.

Influential Illinois Democrats, including state Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Cook County Board of Commissioners president Toni Preckwinkle, and Representatives Jesús "Chuy" García, Jonathan Jackson, Jan Schakowsky, and Delia Ramirez, also threw their support behind Johnson.

Garcia came in fourth place in the February mayoral election; in 2015, he was also a mayoral candidate, forcing then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel into a runoff election, which he eventually lost. His support for Johnson, who is Black, seemingly boosted his support in the city's majority-Latino wards, which played a decisive role in the mayoral race.

Vallas' campaign was centered on voter concerns over public safety, as he pledged to aggressively fight crime in the city and hire up to 2,000 additional police officers. He was backed by the city's police union and received a striking level of support from high-profile Black leaders, including former Secretary of State Jesse White, former Rep. Bobby Rush, former Illinois Senate president Emil Jones, and former mayoral candidate and businessman Willie Wilson.

Chicago is unique electoral turf

Chicago is one of the bluest cities in the country, and Cook County, which is anchored by the city, has been of the most of the most reliably Democratic jurisdictions for generations.

The city has not elected a Republican as mayor since 1927.

While both Johnson and Vallas ran as Democrats, their divergent ideological splits were a defining feature of the race and in many ways reflective of the city.

Chicago is a city of distinct neighborhoods. While many of the city's neighborhoods are quite liberal, including areas like Hyde Park and Logan Square, there are also more moderate-to-conservative swaths, like Mount Greenwood and Norwood Park.

Johnson was strongly backed in the city's progressive centers, and aimed to build on that support with Black and Latino voters, while Vallas appealed to many moderates, especially in the business-centric Loop and outlying city neighborhoods. Vallas also sought to pick up enough support among the city's Black and Latino voters to win a majority of the vote.

According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, Vallas raised $6.4 million in the lead-up to the initial February mayoral election and since March 1 raked in at least $10.9 million through the runoff contest.

Johnson raised nearly $4 million before the February election and since March 1 took in at least $5.8 million through the runoff.