Feb 27, 2023 - Politics

Mayoral campaigns race to finish line

Photo of candidates behind podiums on stage at a debate.

All the mayoral candidates participate in a forum hosted by WGN News in January. Photo: Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Today is the final day of mayoral campaigning before Election Day arrives tomorrow.

Why it matters: The race features no clear front-runner, which has made it one of the more exciting mayoral elections in memory.

State of play: Candidates need more than 50% of the vote, or the top two will advance to a runoff which most experts are expecting.

Let's break down the leading candidates and how their campaigns have played out:

Lori Lightfoot

Lightfoot isn't leading in any polls, unusual for an incumbent.

Wins: Lightfoot's Invest South/West initiative to give more resources to Black and brown communities has become a centerpiece of her campaign.

Challenges: Other candidates, including Willie Wilson, are courting the same voting bloc.

Controversies: Campaign emails enlisting CPS kids, telling Black voters not to vote unless it's for her, and finger-pointing over a pension board decision to limit an officer's long-term disability coverage after a career-ending bout with COVID-19.

Brandon Johnson

The West Side Cook County Commissioner is surging in polls as the progressive candidate.

Wins: The powerful Chicago Teachers Union backs Johnson, a former teacher. He also received a big endorsement from Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), a Lightfoot ally.

Challenges: Johnson is vying for the same progressive voters as García.

Controversies: Some factions within CTU suggest that the union broke rules by funneling union money to his campaign without notifying rank-and-file members.

Paul Vallas

The familiar candidate has run a campaign focusing mainly on public safety.

Wins: Endorsements from the FOP and from Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) give him a huge lift in wards with public sector workers and first responders.

Challenges: He says he's a Democrat, but he's having to justify moves that have aligned him with conservative and right-wing ideology.

Controversies: Where he lives and what he likes on social media.

Jesús "Chuy" García

Garcia is the only Latino candidate running and has experience pushing former Mayor Rahm Emanuel into a runoff in 2015.

Wins: Former Gov. Pat Quinn and Rep. Mike Quigley have endorsed him. He's also the candidate closest to former Mayor Harold Washington.

Challenges: García is vying for the same progressive voters as Johnson.

Controversies: Campaign contributions from Sam Bankman-Fried and the mention of his name in recordings being used in the federal indictment of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.


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