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Dems Divided On Who Should Be The Next Mayor Of Crime-Ridden Chicago

Chicago mayoral runoff candidates Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas have each garnered endorsements from prominent Democrats as the race enters its final stretch.

Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Johnson came in first and second respectively in the election on Feb. 28, eliminating incumbent Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot in the process, before advancing to an April 4 runoff. Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren endorsed Johnson on March 10, while Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin announced support for Vallas Sunday.

Johnson has repeatedly accused Vallas, the former Chicago Public Schools and Philadelphia School District CEO, of being a Republican, despite his claim to being a “lifelong Democrat.” Republican donors have given Vallas significant funding, and he called himself “more of a Republican than a Democrat now” in a 2009 interview, Politico reported.

Independent Vermont senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is supporting Johnson and is set to attend a Chicago rally with him Thursday. Democratic Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has endorsed Johnson as well, hailing their “partnership to achieve full implementation of the Chicago police consent decree, make critical investments in mental health resources for police officers, and crack down on organized retail theft.”

Theft complaints surged in Chicago by about 37% from 2019 to 2022, contributing to a 33% major crime increase overall, based on Chicago Police Department statistics. First-round mayoral candidate Democratic Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who has since endorsed Johnson himself, attacked Lightfoot for taking too long to implement the federal consent decree to improve policing after the 2014 police killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, Politico reported.

The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police supports Vallas, and he claims Johnson wants to defund the police. Johnson said in a December 2020 radio segment that he didn’t view “defund the police” as a slogan, deeming it “an actual real political goal,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

Vallas is also backed by former Obama administration Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who argued in a Thursday Tribune op-ed that an “ineffective Police Department” is one of the top obstacles to addressing Chicago’s gun violence problem.

“Given the desperate need to reform CPD, tell police the truth and hold them accountable, Vallas is our best hope for a safer Chicago,” Duncan wrote. In a Jan. 31 to Feb. 3 poll commissioned by several Chicago media outlets, about 47% of likely mayoral election voters identified crime and public safety as the most important issue in determining their vote.

Johnson’s support base includes South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn and Illinois Reps. Delia Ramirez, Danny K. Davis and Jan Schakowsky, a one-time Garcia supporter. Illinois Rep. Jonathan Jackson and his father Rainbow Push Coalition President Rev. Jesse Jackson endorsed Johnson too, while former Rep. Bobby Rush, former Gov. Pat Quinn and former Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White stand behind Vallas.

Vallas led Johnson 46.3% to 44.2% in a March 20 to 22 poll of 806 likely Chicago run-off voters conducted by Victory Research.

Johnson and Vallas’ campaigns did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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