Mar 28, 2023 - Politics

From Wilco to Bernie Sanders, Chicago gets endorsement fever

Photo of a man playing guitar on stage

Jeff Tweedy and his band Wilco perform at Pritzker Pavilion on Aug. 28, 2021. Photo: Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

With just a week before the Chicago's runoff election, the endorsement race is proving almost as interesting as the election itself.

What's happening: In just the last few days, failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey posted a now-removed video on Facebook that touted Paul Vallas' police union backing and said a Brandon Johnson win would be "a dark day" for Chicago and Illinois.

  • On Sunday, Sen. Dick Durbin threw his support behind Vallas, calling his potential win "an extraordinary opportunity."
  • Chicago hip-hop musician and actor Common just announced his endorsement of Johnson, while later this week Sen. Bernie Sanders is expected to hit town to do the same.

The intrigue: The most fascinating endorsement yet has come from Chicago indie rock band Wilco, whose lead singer Jeff Tweedy said in a video before a Riv show this weekend:

  • "We just want to let you know, this is the guy we're voting for: Brandon Johnson."

What he's saying: "Wilco started out via Chicago, and has ended up touring across the world. …This endorsement is a real shot in the arm for our movement," Johnson said in a statement slyly nodding to two Wilco song titles.

Between the lines: It's not clear if voters will dance to the Wilco tune, but it got us wondering which local luminaries could really sway a mayoral race. Here's what we heard on our social media:

  • Dave H.: "If former Chicagoan Barack Obama endorsed a candidate, I'd pay attention to that."
  • Molly S.: "Apparently I'm just listening to musicians … I'm voting with Jeff Tweedy and Steve Albini."
  • Dorie S.: "Tom Skilling."
  • Tom M.: "Since politics is full of clowns, I'd like to see who our dearly beloved Bozo the Clown would endorse?"
  • Barb G.: "I'm sure that Chicago (the band) speaks for all of us."

Justin's thought bubble: Why stop with Wilco! What does Fall Out Boy think of public safety? Does Dennis Franz care about charter schools? Does Twista want an independent city council?

  • Who am I kidding, I'd vote with Chaka.

Monica's thought bubble: Sure you can joke, but for white, affluent, middle-aged North Siders and Lakefront liberals (some of our most active voters) Wilco may offer the most influential endorsement yet.

  • Durbin is also big with this demographic, but most haven't piped his voice into their ears during the best and worst times of their lives. Music creates a bond.
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