Jan 17, 2023 - Politics

Media blitz hits the Chicago mayoral election

Photo of two people talking to press at a press conference.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and U.S. Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García appear together in late 2022. Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

👋 Hi, it's Justin! With so many candidates vying to be the next mayor of Chicago (nine), it's important for their campaigns to break through with media messaging.

Why it matters: Mayoral candidates are using several media platforms to get their word out to voters.

  • Whom they reach and how they reach them could make a candidate's campaign, as only about 32% of Chicago voters typically cast ballots in municipal elections.

Candidates' strategies include:

Lori Lightfoot: The mayor has jumped out in front of the pack with several television/streaming ads, including an old-fashioned attack ad against opponent Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García.

  • Other ads show the mayor doing comedy, choking back tears and casting her opponents as puppets.
  • But the attack ad takes a worn page from the Illinois GOP playbook by targeting Garcia's past ties with indicted former House speaker Michael Madigan. Yawn. Sure, Madigan has become the symbol for general corruption, but it's surprising to see an incumbent Democratic mayor use Republican ad tropes.

Paul Vallas: The former CPS CEO has been running TV ads mostly focused on violence and crime.

  • Pretty straightforward, with messages about adding police and making the streets safer, it works.

Brandon Johnson: The Cook County commissioner got some big contributions from the Chicago Teachers Union, so it's not surprising to see him prioritizing improving public schools.

  • Johnson has the best slogan of the race so far: "Brandon is Better."

Ja'Mal Green: The young activist makes the most of limited funds by effectively using TikTok and Instagram to spread his message. He may be the first candidate in city history to rap his agenda.

  • Green's worth a follow just for the creative ways he's using his social media feeds.

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