Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) lost her bid for reelection, a stunning blow to an incumbent who made headlines as an underdog reformer candidate who defied expectations and won the city’s top job in 2019.
Lightfoot on Tuesday failed to be one of the top two vote-getters to notch a spot in the final round of voting in April, according to unofficial results from the Chicago Board of Elections, making her the city’s first mayor to lose reelection in 40 years.
Paul Vallas, former Chicago Public Schools CEO, and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson will face one other in an April 4 runoff, after no candidate managed to secure 50 percent of the vote.
Vallas led the nine-candidate field with 33.77 percent of the total vote, and Johnson came in second with 20.29 percent. Lightfoot was third, with 17.06 percent.
Lightfoot said during her concession speech on Tuesday evening that she called both Vallas and Johnson to congratulate them on making it into the runoff.
“Obviously, we didn’t win the election today, but I stand here with my head held high,” she told her supporters.
Meanwhile, Vallas thanked his supporters after he was the first candidate projected to advance.
“Thank you Chicago! Our campaign isn’t over yet and we will be spending the next five weeks talking to the people of our city about the need to elect a leader who is transparent, accountable, collaborative, and who puts public safety at the top of our priorities,” he tweeted.
Despite her incumbent status, Lightfoot was largely seen as an underdog. Recent polling either placed her in a statistical tie with or trailing Vallas, Johnson and Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.).
The Chicago mayor’s tenure has at times been colored by contentious relationships she’s had with individuals and groups like the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU).
Experts suggested ahead of the race that it wasn’t clear what type of constituency would vote for Lightfoot ahead of the race given some of the groups who had once backed her, including the city’s white and progressive-leaning North Side lakefront cohort, appeared less likely to endorse her again.
“Believe that you matter and believe that you can love who you want to love and do what you want to do and be who you want to be. You will not be defined by how you fall,” she told supporters in a nod toward how she wanted politicos to remember her tenure.
“You will be defined by how hard you work and how much you do good for other people.”