Chicago mayoral poll shows tie between Paul Vallas, Brandon Johnson 1 week away from Election Day

ByCraig Wall, Eric Horng, and Christian Piekos WLS logo
Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Chicago mayor candidates get sharp in debate as poll shows them tied
The Chicago mayoral election is a week away as candidates Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson met for another debate, trading barbs about their backgrounds and policies.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new Northwestern University poll shows the Chicago mayoral race is a dead heat, with both candidates at 44% with 12% undecided.

With tens of thousands already voted, Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas are taking all the endorsements they can get ahead of April 4 to win over last minute voters.

SEE ALSO | Chicago mayoral candidates pull out all the stops to sway undecided voters ahead of election

The two candidates met for another debate Tuesday night, trading barbs on the issues and their resumes.

"The fact that he's being dismissive of a Black man who taught for four years in Chicago Public Schools is, is, you've got to stop doing that, Paul," Johnson said.

"His leadership ability and his lack of management competency, that's what I'm questioning, not his four years as a teacher," said Vallas. "When he retires, well, he'll actually retire with a teacher pension despite the fact that he's only been a teacher for four years."

"We're going to retire you in three days," Johnson shot back.

Vallas also accused Johnson of being "largely funded by the Chicago Teachers Union" as he responded to questions about controversial comments made by Chicago Fraternal Order of Police president John Catanzara in the New York Times.

Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson, who are tied in the latest mayoral poll, both disavowed controversial comments from police union president John Catanzara Tuesday.

Catanzara predicted in an article that 800 to 1,000 Chicago police officers would leave the force if Johnson wins, and that there would be "blood in the streets."

"This is a critical moment where the type of fear and trepidation that's being pushed on the other side, our message has been centered around hopes, and our hopes are turning into votes," Johnson countered.

In the debate, he said the comments speak to "the type of candidacy that my opponent is running, someone who is supported by the extreme right wing."

RELATED | Chicago mayor election 2023: Johnson, Vallas talk community plans, coalitions at forum

He also got a boost from the entertainment industry.

"This election is too important for any of us to stay on the sidelines, that's why I'm announcing my endorsement of Brandon Johnson for mayor," Chicago Rapper Common said in a video supporting Johnson. "We need a leader who loves our city and is truly for the people - all families from all backgrounds and all neighborhoods. He shows the heart and the vision to bring change that our city needs."

Johnson campaigned at an art gallery in Grand Crossing Tuesday, looking to shore up support in the Black community, and also appeared on CNN Tuesday, touting his plan to fight crime.

"We also have to do what works, which is we have to prevent violent crime from happening, and that's why I'm committed to doubling the amount of young people that we hire," Johnson said.

The Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed Paul Vallas, who stressed his support is from the rank and file and disavowed the comments from Catanzara.

"I condemn his comments. I think his comments are absolutely irresponsible period, that's it, period, they're absolutely irresponsible and they have no place in this campaign, period," Vallas said.

Vallas had earlier laid out his vision for the city to civic leaders from across Chicago during a City Club luncheon.

"Why this latest call to duty? Paul Vallas the wonk is a public administrative version of a first responder and right now our house is on fire," he said.

Vallas was also endorsed by former mayoral candidate Sophia King.

"We need someone with proven leadership skills and the ability to bring us together," 4th Ward Alderman Sophia King said. "That's why I'm supporting Paul Vallas for mayor."

King, the former mayoral hopeful threw her support behind Vallas Tuesday at his campaign headquarters.

Chicago mayoral candidates Brandon Johnson, Paul Vallas launch attacks as Election Day nears

Vallas is backed by at least three former mayoral candidates, including Willie Wilson and Ja'Mal Green.

"This is an important endorsement for me on a personal basis because I've long admired her integrity, her skills, her leadership and her willingness to sometimes swim against the tide," Vallas said.

But Johnson said he believes his campaign is shining in the home stretch and is not worried about the endorsement.

"I'm grateful to have the support of, you know, crossing guards, um, childcare providers. We have the support of those in the business community. They recognize that my plan particularly around investment and public safety, that's the plan that's going to bring us all together," he said.

Among voters aged 65 and older, Vallas has a more than 30 point lead, but among younger voters aged 18 to 29, Johnson leads by double digits.