Chicago mayoral race: Endorsements lining up for Vallas and Johnson ahead of runoff

The two remaining Chicago mayoral candidates are racking up endorsements from organizations and influential figures across the city and the United States less than a month before the April runoff election.

In the aftermath of a general election that ousted Lori Lightfoot, Chicago voters' are looking for a Democratic candidate who plans to change how the city deals with crime and education — two areas that suffered dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic.


Organizations and unions are throwing out endorsements to either progressive-leaning candidate Brandon Johnson or more centrist candidate Paul Vallas leading up to April 4, when the two will go head-to-head to determine who will decide Chicago's direction for the next four years.

Since the beginning of 2022, the Chicago mayoral race has raised more than $22 million, which was spread between nine candidates in the general election, as the city sought to elect its next mayor. After none of the nine candidates reached 50% of the vote, the two leading candidates, Vallas and Johnson, headed to a runoff election.

Here are the organizations, unions, and figures throwing their lot with either Johnson or Vallas.

Election 2023 Chicago Mayor
Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson participates in a forum with other Chicago mayoral candidates hosted by the Chicago Women Take Action Alliance Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023. (Erin Hooley/AP)

Brandon Johnson

Brandon Johnson, 46, a Cook County commissioner, has swept the national endorsement field compared to Vallas.

Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Delia Ramirez (D-IL), and Jonathan Jackson (D-IL), as well as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), have endorsed Johnson for mayor of Chicago. Neither of Illinois's senators nor Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-IL) has publicly declared their support for either candidate.

Johnson clutched a strong victory after winning the endorsement from Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul (D), who was the first statewide official to endorse a candidate in the 2023 race. He also received an endorsement from previous candidate Kam Buckner (D).

"Brandon is the right candidate to move Chicago forward, and I am grateful for his 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," Raoul said in a statement.

Johnson's most notable organization endorsements have come from the Chicago Teachers Union and Personal PAC, an abortion rights organization. Both education and abortion have come up as topics in recent debates between Vallas and Johnson.

He has also received endorsements from Grassroots Illinois Action and the Working Families Party, a nod to his more progressive agenda. He, like many progressive Democrats, supports a more comprehensive approach to public safety by addressing mental health, education, and affordable housing.

Johnson made abortion the focus of his personal attacks toward Vallas in the first debate between the runoff candidates, calling out Vallas for previous statements he made about abortion.

"I'm dedicated to making sure that we are protecting the reproductive rights of women as well as protecting abortion rights," Johnson said on Tuesday at Operation Rainbow Push, earning him support from the abortion rights PAC.

Personal PAC CEO Sarah Garza Resnick said that Vallas has stayed silent on the fight for abortion rights in Illinois.

"The fight for reproductive rights in Illinois has been going on for decades," Garza Resnik said. "Where has he been all this time?"

As of March 4, Johnson has raised nearly $4.8 million, with the majority coming from unions. Less than 6% has come from individuals or non-union sources, per Illinois Policy Institute.

Between Jan. 1 and March 6, the Chicago Teachers Union, its PAC, and other union affiliates donated $3.2 million to Johnson's campaign. If elected, Johnson pledged to increase funding for the school system to improve programs and school conditions. He's said he also aims to hire new clinicians and counselors.

Paul Vallas
Chicago mayoral candidate Paul Vallas smiles as he speaks at his election night event in Chicago, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. Mayor Lori Lightfoot conceded defeat Tuesday night, ending her efforts for a second term and setting the stage for Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson to run against former Chicago Public Schools CEO Vallas for Chicago mayor. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) Nam Y. Huh/AP

Paul Vallas

Paul Vallas, 69, is popular within large voting blocs, with a recent poll showing him in the lead over Johnson, 44.9% to 39.1%. Part of his advantage could stem from endorsements from previous 2023 mayoral candidates and police unions.

He is backed by the Fraternal Order of Police and several pro-police city council members, key endorsements as the city continues to grapple with rising crime. Vallas has also received endorsements from the Chicago Tribune and Gazette Chicago.

Voters ranked public safety among their top concerns when picking a candidate, and it served as a large opportunity for candidates to blast the Lightfoot administration — whose policies were not lax on paper — for Chicago's crime rates.

Vallas, the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, said current police staffing shortages are a "recipe for catastrophe" in a debate on Tuesday. If elected, he will put more officers out in the city to patrol the streets and recall officers that left the force out of frustration with Lightfoot during her tenure.

He also wants to bring back "community-based policing," as police officers cannot be the "only responders" to 911 calls, which he says has worked for Chicago in the past.

"Community policing fundamentally means, you have beat officers on every beat. So every single beat is covered by a patrol car, manned with officers. Officers know the community, and are known by name and by badge number, by the community," Vallas said. "There's no better accountability than that."

Several previous mayoral candidates have endorsed Vallas, as well, such as Ja'Mal Green, Willie Wilson, and Alderman Rod Sawyer. Green's endorsement came as a surprise, as he ran on a platform where he would not support hiring additional officers but instead would work toward reforming the police department.

Wilson said Vallas is the right person to fight crime in the city.

"People want to make this a black and white issue," Wilson said on March 8. "I'm not for that. I'm for [bringing] people together — and I think Paul is for [bringing] people together also."


"It is an absolute privilege to be endorsed by Willie," Vallas said when he accepted the endorsement. "It is an absolute privilege to call Willie one of my closest friends."

Since Feb. 23, Vallas has raised over $6.12 million in contributions. He lent $100,000 to his mayoral campaign on March 2 to lift restrictions limiting the amount of money donors can give to candidates for public office. He reported receiving a majority of donations from conservative contributors and prominent Republicans.

Original Location: Chicago mayoral race: Endorsements lining up for Vallas and Johnson ahead of runoff


Washington Examiner Videos

Load comments