Chicago Mayoral Election: Brandon Johnson, Paul Vallas earn new endorsements ahead of runoff race

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Monday, March 6, 2023
Chicago mayoral candidates earn new endorsements ahead of runoff
Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas each announced new endorsements for their respective bids to become mayor on Monday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's mayoral runoff election is four weeks from Tuesday.

After campaigning hundreds of miles apart on Sunday, both candidates picked up endorsements on Monday.

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Mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson hoping to tap into the standing and popularity of Illinois U.S. Rep. Danny Davis to help him win the votes he will need to beat Paul Vallas in the runoff election.

Davis, who supported Mayor Lori Lightfoot during the primary election, now switching his allegiance in the runoff to help get his fellow West Side resident Johnson elected as the next mayor.

"Brandon Johnson has the talent, the skill the ability to move around him all of the experts that he will need in every area," Davis said.

At 46, Johnson is also "the right age, full of energy, full of talent, full of responsibility" that will be needed to take on the formidable challenges awaiting Chicago's next mayor, Davis said.

"I want a mayor who is a creative thinker. Who thinks beyond where we have been, but thinks in terms of where we need to go," Davis told reporters.

Davis said he knows Vallas and worked with him when Vallas served as then-Mayor Richard M. Daley's budget director.

"The difference is Brandon walks and talks with the people each and every day and has the ability to understand their pain, their hurt, their frustration. Paul brings whatever attributes that he has. But, I would have Brandon Johnson any day. Paul will be my friend. I'll know him. ... But Brandon is the candidate that I'd like to see on the 5th floor" of City Hall.

Meanwhile, retiring Alderman Roderick Sawyer chose Vallas, becoming the first of seven mayoral challengers to choose sides in the April 4 runoff.

"Brandon's a good man. I have nothing bad to say about him. I just think that my politics are different than what his vision for the future is," Sawyer said.

One big difference of opinion is on Johnson's "tax the rich" plan to raise $800 million and use those funds on an array of programs.

Sawyer also is concerned Johnson's CTU connection could pose a conflict, given that Johnson would be negotiating with the teachers union when its contract expires next year. Besides $1 million in contributions, the union provided hundreds of foot soldiers to help get out the vote Feb. 28.

"The teachers union is becoming way too political," said Sawyer, son of former Mayor Eugene Sawyer.

Although Johnson no longer talks about "defunding" the police, Sawyer said he is equally concerned about Johnson's refusal to commit to filling the 1,700 police vacancies or fully funding the Chicago Police Department's $1.94 billion budget.

In fact, Johnson wants to cut at least $150 million from the CPD budget by reducing the ratio of supervisors to rank-and-file officers and make the shortage of officers worse by promoting 200 detectives.

Sawyer said he has no doubt Vallas will get the 20% to 25% percent of the Black vote he needs to win the runoff. His only concern is how ugly and racially divisive the race might get.

Sawyer's support came on the heels of Vallas' endorsement over the weekend from Alderman Walter Burnett, whose 27th Ward includes part of the West Side.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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