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Chicago mayor defeated in re-election bid

Chicago voters ousted Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday night time, making her the primary mayor within the metropolis to lose re-election in 40 years.

The defeat was a outstanding reversal from the landslide 4 years in the past that carried Lightfoot, then a political unknown, to Metropolis Corridor, and made her the primary black lesbian to run the third-largest metropolis within the US.

However in a sprawling subject of 9 candidates, amid a race dominated by fears over crime, the mayor was unable to win sufficient votes to safe a spot in a run-off election in April. Lightfoot obtained 75,000 votes, or 16 per cent of the full forged.

“I might be rooting and praying for our subsequent mayor to ship within the years to come back,” Lightfoot mentioned in her concession speech. “Clearly, we didn’t win the election, however I stand right here with my head held excessive.”

Tuesday’s prime vote-getter was Paul Vallas, who was appointed chief government of Chicago Public Colleges in 1995, later holding comparable posts in New Orleans and Philadelphia. The one white candidate within the race, Vallas hammered on the theme of public security and received the backing of town’s police union. He received 159,000 votes, or 35 per cent of the full.

“Public security is the elemental proper of each American,” Vallas mentioned to supporters on Tuesday night time. “We’ll make Chicago the most secure metropolis in America.”

Vallas’s marketing campaign strategist Joe Trippi famous “should you’re not protected to stroll the streets, nothing actually issues . . . I didn’t suppose we’d break 30 [per cent], however now we have.”

Brandon Johnson, a commissioner in county authorities, positioned second within the race, with 92,000 votes, or 20 per cent of the full. Johnson, a political progressive backed by the highly effective Chicago Lecturers Union, surged late within the race.

A candidate must obtain greater than 50 per cent of the vote to win outright, so Vallas and Johnson will face one another in an April 4 run-off. It’s the solely the third such contest within the metropolis’s historical past, the primary coming eight years in the past when Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, now a US consultant, compelled then-mayor Rahm Emanuel right into a run-off.

About 32 per cent of registered voters in Chicago forged ballots within the election. The Chicago board of elections will start counting one other 99,000 mail-in ballots on Wednesday.

Lightfoot campaigned as a progressive in 2019, and the previous federal prosecutor was swept into workplace by voters outraged over political corruption in Metropolis Corridor. Her tenure was marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, the civil unrest that adopted the homicide of George Floyd and a murder fee that peaked in 2021.

The murder fee fell once more final yr, however stays increased than when Lightfoot took workplace. Different classes of crime, comparable to carjackings, have risen.

Vallas’s law-and-order marketing campaign message appealed to his political base of white conservative voters. He raised $5.1mn, a lot from Republican donors, and was backed by town’s police union, which he represented in contract negotiations.

He did entice some controversy in the course of the race. A Chicago Tribune investigation discovered that Vallas’s Twitter account had favored posts that used homophobic language to confer with Lightfoot and to reward “stop-and-frisk”, a controversial police tactic that disproportionately targets black individuals.

Vallas denied sharing the views of the posters and mentioned his account was hacked.

Contributing to his sturdy exhibiting was the central function crime performed within the race, mentioned Delmarie Cobb, a longtime Chicago political operative. The town is likely one of the most racially segregated within the US, and lots of black neighbourhoods have suffered for years from felony exercise. However as crime has risen in additional prosperous and white areas, “now there’s an issue”, Cobb mentioned.

The nine-candidate subject was predominantly black. In a metropolis the place racial politics have lengthy influenced the mayor’s race, Cobb mentioned that white voters might have been “trying to somebody white to be the reply to fixing the issue”. Earlier on Tuesday, Vallas was exhibiting excessive vote counts in wards situated on the north-west and south-west sides, that are predominantly white and residential to lots of the metropolis’s cops and firefighters.

However Lightfoot additionally misplaced allies as she gained a fame of being troublesome to work with. The truth that 4 years in the past she trounced a candidate, Toni Preckwinkle, who was well-known in Chicago and had received most of her races, solely to lose to Vallas, Cobb mentioned, “simply goes to indicate you it was hers to lose”.