While the world is focused on former President Donald Trump today (April 4) as he attends his arraignment, Chicago residents will be casting their votes to choose the Democrat candidate for mayor. The runoff between Paul Vallas, 69, and Brandon Johnson, 47, is expected to be close, and experts say the results may not be known for days, maybe even weeks, depending on outstanding mail-in ballots.
After knocking Lori Lightfoot (D) out of the running, Vallas and Johnson have revved up their campaigns, spending millions of dollars. The former spent $20 million on the race, with $13 million going just toward the runoff, while Johnson raised about $9 million, with $5.1 million for the last-ditch effort.
Over the weekend, both contestants attended churches on the South Side, including the same house of worship within hours of each other, to try to gain votes where Lightfoot had enjoyed strong support.
Lightfoot received a lot of criticism for her handling, or non-handling, of crime, and Vallas, a former Chicago Public Schools CEO and budget director endorsed by the city’s Fraternal Order of Police, made crime one of his top campaign issues. He told reporters at a news conference outside a restaurant:
“We wanted to take this opportunity to remind voters that they have a dramatic choice to make in this election. My opponent and I do agree on important issues, such as supporting and protecting a woman’s reproductive rights. But my opponent is trying to create differences where none exist, because he wants to distract voters from the issues at hand. Crime is going up, and crime will be my No. 1 priority.”
Johnson, a Cook County Board of Commissioners member endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union, talked about his Christian background and said, “If we want a safe city, we have to do what safe American cities do, and that’s invest in people. That means a fully funded neighborhood school, reliable and safe transportation, good paying jobs, access to health care, including mental health care.”
Chicago Mayoral Race Too Close to Call
A new poll released by Victory Research on April 2 shows Vallas with a four-point lead over Johnson. But that might not mean much when so many mail-in ballots will not be counted for days. “The Chicago Board of Elections says more than 154,000 early ballots have been cast in person and 95,000 vote-by-mail ballots have been returned, with many more outstanding. That’s a total of nearly 250,000 votes already cast in the runoff election,” ABC 7 Eyewitness News reported.
As Matt Podgorski of M3 Strategies pointed out, neither candidate will likely concede until all the ballots have been counted. “I highly doubt either camp will concede on election night because up to 100,000 votes may not be counted when we go to bed.” Election Board spokesperson Max Bever said not all of the outstanding ballots will likely be returned. “Of the 100,000 outstanding that we had as of election day for Feb. 28, we only got 52,000 of those back over the next two weeks.”
Podgorski also pointed out the age gap, not only between the candidates but also that of the voters, who may turn out to be more supportive of Johnson, whose base is more progressive and younger people who “tend to turn their ballots in late, historically. They’re just more susceptible to GOTV [get out the vote] efforts. They’re the ones who are less likely to vote without a strong push.”
Another wrench in the proceedings may be the extreme weather conditions predicted for Election Day, which could deter people from leaving their homes. Polls opened Monday and will close Tuesday at 7 p.m. local time.
All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Liberty Nation.
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