Paul Vallas endorsed by former Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White in Chicago mayoral race

Craig Wall Image
Friday, March 3, 2023
Jesse White endorses Paul Vallas in Chicago mayoral race
In the race for Chicago mayor, Jesse White's support for Paul Vallas could provide an important boost among Black voters.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Former Secretary of State Jesse White is throwing his support behind Paul Vallas in the race for Chicago mayor as Brandon Johnson works to secure the backing of some of the other Black candidates who had been in the race.

With seven Black candidates in the first round of this mayoral election, the Black vote was split. Now both Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas are courting those voters who supported other candidates. Jesse White could be an important influence.

RELATED | Vallas, Johnson set for April runoff as Mayor Lightfoot concedes

White, the longtime Secretary of State and one of Illinois' most beloved and respected political figures, provided a potentially significant boost for Vallas' campaign with his endorsement Thursday afternoon.

"I think that you are the right person for the right job," White said. "And not only are you gonna take over the job, you're gonna make us proud of the fact that we elected you to this office and I'm proud to be here today to endorse you."

White had endorsed Lori Lightfoot in the first round. White's support for Vallas could provide an important boost among Black voters.

"Jesse White's endorsement helps me with everyone because Jesse White has always been a bridge builder," Vallas said.

As he campaigned Thursday afternoon at a home for seniors in Bronzeville, Johnson looked to expand his base of supporters. He had not spoken to White about an endorsement, but tried to downplay its significance.

Brandon Johnson went after Paul Vallas for comments he made on a podcast in 2021 about critical race theory being taught in schools as part of Black history.

He also went after Vallas for comments Vallas made on a podcast in 2021 about critical race theory being taught in schools as part of Black history.

"And I think it's not only divisive, I think it does damage between the children and their own parents, their own families, within their own families," Vallas said on the podcast.

"You know it's unfortunate that, you know Mr. Vallas is committed to the same type of divisive politics that have left communities behind," Johnson said.

"I have no response for Brandon Johnson, he's going to have his own record to explain or lack of record to explain," Vallas said.

RELATED | What's next for Mayor Lori Lightfoot after election loss?

Johnson, the west side County Commissioner, was courting votes at the 95th Street Red Line station earlier Thursday.

Behind the scenes, Johnson ally and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was working to consolidate the Black vote for Johnson, calling Willie Wilson to seek his endorsement.

On social media, Wilson is seeking feedback for who he should support, telling ABC7 he will meet with both candidates and community leaders before deciding. Johnson is also seeking endorsements from all his former rivals.

"Yeah, I'm gonna work hard to earn their vote," Johnson said. "I mean, that's what you do in a democracy. And that's why I'm proud that we are moving towards an elected representative school board in which I fought for to expand democracy in the city of Chicago and every single voter that voted for different candidates."

ABC7 Political analyst Laura Washington says endorsements can be important.

"Endorsements, especially from your former rivals bring votes, they bring credibility, they bring standing and depending on how solidified the vote is from varies endorsees, it can make a big difference," Washington said.

Jesus "Chuy" Garcia has not decided who to endorse yet, but shares a natural progressive constituency with Johnson. There's no word on whether Lori Lightfoot has decided to endorse or not.