(CNN) Chicago voters will choose Brandon Johnson, a progressive Cook County commissioner backed by the powerful teachers union, as the next mayor, CNN projects.
Johnson will win Second phase of election on Tuesday Paul Wallace, a moderate former city school superintendent, campaigned on a pro-police message in a race centered on concerns about violent crime.
Johnson told supporters his victory “opened a new chapter in our city’s history” and demonstrated a “bold, progressive movement” that he said should be a blueprint for the country.
“Now, Chicago will start working for its people — for all its people. Because tonight is the gateway to a new future for our city; a city where you can thrive no matter who you love or how much money you have in the bank. Account,” he said.
Wallace said at his election night event that he called Johnson to concede the race.
“This campaign that I’ve run to unite the city, if this election is going to divide us further, is not going to be a campaign that will fulfill my ambitions. So it’s very important to take this opportunity to come together and give him my full right to support his transition,” Vallas said.
Vallas and Johnson contested Replace Mayor Lori LightfootHis bid for a second term ended when he finished third in the first round of nine candidates on February 28 — failing to advance to the first two runoffs.
Lightfoot battled two powerful forces in this year’s mayoral race: the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, which backed Wallace, and the Chicago Teachers Union, which backed Johnson, a former teacher and union organizer.
The conflict between those two unions is part of a larger battle over how the city has handled the Covid-19 pandemic — a period that saw violent crime spike and school closures.
Vallas campaigned on a pro-police, tough-on-crime message. He promised to fill hundreds of vacant positions in the Chicago Police Department and said he would insist on community policing and officers on public transit after recent incidents of violent crime on Chicago Transit Authority trains and stations alarmed many commuters.
It was a popular message among progressives in 2020 after the police killing of George Floyd, but it has backfired amid a rise in violent crime in Chicago and other cities. Including top Democrats President Joe Bidenhave long rejected the slogan.
Johnson said during the campaign that he did not want to cut police spending. He said he would hire 200 new detectives and argued that solving crimes would increase Chicago residents’ trust in the police and prevent crime.
In his victory speech Tuesday night, Johnson nodded to his conflicts with Wallace over crime and policing. “He envisions a city that’s safer for everyone by investing in really working to prevent crime. And youth employment, mental health centers, making sure law enforcement has the resources to solve and prevent crime,” he said.
Vallas and Johnson spent the weeks leading up to the runoff canvassing the roughly 45% of voters who did not vote for either candidate in February.
They focused specifically on black and Latino voters outside Johnson’s progressive base and Wallace’s support in white neighborhoods and the city’s Northwest Side.
Wallace featured prominent figures on the block of Chicago politics, including former Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and former U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, in his final television ad about his Democratic credentials.
Johnson argued that Vallas was too conservative for voters in a city where 83% of voters supported a Democratic presidential bid in 2020. He highlighted the donations Wallace’s campaign received from business interests and Republicans, as well as digital ads paid for by PACs. With ties to former Trump education secretary Betsy DeVos.
“When Trump is taking dollars from supporters and trying to make you part of the progressive movement — sit down, man,” Johnson said at a rally in Chicago with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders last week.
This story has been updated with additional updates.