Lori Lightfoot's Successor Has Been Determined

Brandon Johnson wins runoff election over the more conservative candidate
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2023 11:06 AM CST
Updated Apr 4, 2023 11:21 PM CDT
Lightfoot's Loss Illustrates a Problem for Democrats
Chicago mayoral candidate Paul Vallas speaks at his election night event Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. He advanced to the runoff.   (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
UPDATE Apr 4, 2023 11:21 PM CDT

Union organizer and former teacher Brandon Johnson will be the next mayor of Chicago. Johnson won Tuesday's runoff election over the police union-backed Paul Vallas, in what the AP calls "a major victory for the Democratic Party’s progressive wing" in the city. Johnson will succeed Lori Lightfoot, the first Chicago mayor in four decades to lose a reelection bid.

Mar 2, 2023 11:06 AM CST

Lori Lightfoot lost her reelection bid in Chicago's mayoral race, and her defeat is seen an example of a larger issue playing out nationwide: Progressive Democrats are losing because they're viewed as too soft on crime. Coverage:

  • The runoff: The two Chicago candidates who advanced to the April runoff will again illustrate the debate. Both are Democrats, but Paul Vallas, who's white, is the more conservative of the two, and he's pushing a tough law-and-order message that includes hiring more police to fight rising crime in the city. Opponent Brandon Johnson, who's Black, favors more systemic changes related to education, jobs, housing, and mental health. USA Today offers a look at both.

  • Elsewhere: This dynamic has played out elsewhere around the US, writes Alexi McCammond at Axios: "Mayoral races in New York City, Atlanta, and San Francisco have shown voters turning to more moderate Democrats who are often at odds with activists on the left." It may play out again in November in mayoral races in Philadelphia, Houston, and Denver. The piece quotes Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb: "It is so important, as you see in Chicago, that Democrats have a very clear, succinct, and strong message that we can be focused on solving violent crime while also making sure there's accountability for police misconduct."
  • Pelosi lament: Nancy Pelosi has said that Democrats might've held the House in November had congressional candidates in New York paid more attention to crime, per Fox News.
  • The balance: An analysis by David Leonhardt in the New York Times suggests that newly elected Mayor Karen Bass of Los Angeles might provide a model for Democrats. She was a victim of burglary herself, and she didn't shy away from discussing crime in her victory over a more conservative opponent. She supported the need to hire more officers, as well as the need to hold abusive officers accountable. In her inaugural address, she illustrated the point: "We must stop crimes in progress and hold people accountable," she said. "Let me be so bold as to add that we can prevent crime and community violence by addressing the social, the health, and the economic conditions that compromise a safe environment."
  • Chicago vote: Christian Paz also digs into the entire issue at Vox, suggesting that the April runoff in Chicago will be telling. "Chicagoans might give another example of how the Democratic base and its elected leaders are recalibrating their approaches to crime as the party finds a middle ground between conservative and progressive solutions," he writes.
  • Unfair blame? At the New York Times, columnist Charles Blow writes about the "spectacular fall" of Lightfoot and how all of the above factored in. He finds that "two things can be true simultaneously: There can be legitimate concerns about rising crime, and crime can be used as a political wedge issue, particularly against elected officials of color, which has happened often."
(More Lori Lightfoot stories.)

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