Brandon Johnson stunned many people when he won an upset victory in the Chicago mayoral race this week. The momentum for Mr. Johnson came in the closing days of the campaign thanks to a strong push from progressive groups, Senator Bernie Sanders’ endorsement, and endorsements from other key organizations and individuals. This resulted in a diverse coalition of support coming together which was key to Mr. Johnson’s win.
Mr. Johnson managed to win over undecided voters and increase turnout among young and Hispanic voters, while his opponent Paul Vallas could not win enough support from Black voters despite having backing from Black politicians. Mr. Johnson’s success was due in part to his pledge to not defund police, but to instead focus on preventing crime through a combination of increased investment in communities and better policing strategies.
The election is a rebuke of sorts to the tough-on-crime policies proposed by Mr. Vallas and will be watched closely as Mr. Johnson takes office next month. He takes the mantle from Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who was the first Black woman and the first openly gay person to lead Chicago and was reelected by winning in all 50 wards in 2019.
United Working Families and other progressive labor groups worked hard to spread the word about Mr. Johnson and inform voters of his public safety plan, while Mr. Quezada, a County Commissioner from the Northwest Side, said that Johnson was able to reach and win over more citizens by visiting communities, getting union endorsements, and having more of a presence in neighborhoods.
This historic result shows that all Chicagoans – regardless of race or creed – can come together to make change. Goodman political strategist Tom Bowen asserted that, “He has the support of the progressive North Siders and the Black wards on the South Side, which is the most enduring coalition in Chicago politics.”
The result of this significant win for Brandon Johnson sends a strong message about the power of authentic community engagement, good communication, and grassroots organizing. He also now faces the reality of leading a divided city, but with a large coalition of Chicago’s citizens behind him.
Brandon Johnson previously served as a Democratic county commissioner and is known for his progressive leanings and political savvy. He is looking to bring social change and strengthen the community by advocating for better education, healthcare, housing, and jobs.
Paul Vallas is an experienced politician known for turning around the Chicago public school system. His law-and-order platform of expanding the police force and fighting crime garnered strong support from conservative and moderate voters. However, he was unable to win over many Black voters and eventually could not convert enough undecided votes.
Overall, Mr. Johnson proved victorious thanks to a passionate campaign that engaged with the people of Chicago while speaking to the issues they cared about. His victory shows the power of building strategic alliances and utilizing progressive organizations, individual endorsements and key political figures to successfully make a difference in the community.