Chicago is a month away from electing a new mayor in a runoff pitting progressive City Commissioner Brandon Johnson and conservative, anti-Choice, white-power fake Democrat Paul Vallas, a notorious liar supported by right-wing oligarchs. They had their first post-primary debate on Wednesday night, which was a disaster for Vallas, caught lying again about his anti-Choice position. “Fundamentally, I oppose abortion” is what he says to conservative Republicans but tells Democrats the opposite.
Vallas, a homophobe, has been endorsed by the Chicago Republican Party (again), is backed by the Fraternal Order of Police and his biggest funders are the same GOP billionaires, like Ken Griffin, Michael Keiser and a slew of hedge fund billionaires from Citadel, Duchossois Group and Madison Dearborn Partners, who fund Trump and other fascists. Some of the sleaziest consultants in the Democratic world, Joe Trippi and AIPAC’s Mark Mellman, are deploying all the dirty tricks to get him the office.
In 2009, while working in Louisiana he told the Chicago Sun-Times that he planned to return to Chicago to run for president of the Cook County Board as a Republican. At the time House Republican leader Tom Cross was overjoyed. “I think he’d be an excellent candidate He’d be great for Republicans, great for Cook County, [with] impeccable credentials, substance and integrity.” He didn’t run that year but has since run for office after office after office, usually as a conservative Democrat. He came in first in the primary but isn anything but a shoo-in this time.
Blue America has endorsed Johnson and you can contribute to his campaign here or by clicking on the endorsement meme up top. Last night I asked former Congresswoman Marie Newman, who represented a swath of Chicago and she told me she’s backing Johnson too.
“The choice for mayor is incredibly clear. With Brandon Johnson, you gain deep credentials and expertise, lived working families experience, robust competence from decades of public service, respectfulness and real solutions that work. With Vallas, you gain racism, misogyny, 4 well documented failures in 4 separate cities and no solutions. I heartily endorse Brandon Johnson and Chicago will choose Johnson!“
This morning, Elizabeth Warren endorsed Brandon Johnson.
“Commissioner Brandon Johnson and I are both former public school teachers,” she said in a statement, “and I can tell you that he understands what it takes to build a stronger Chicago for everyone. From education to public safety to housing, Brandon has a bold, forward-looking, progressive plan to move Chicago forward, and he has the experience to make those plans real. That’s why he’s sparked such an extraordinary movement in this race, and that’s why I’m proud to support Brandon’s historic campaign for Mayor.”
Block Club Chicago reported early in Wednesday night’s debate “moderator Mary Ann Ahern posed two questions which have dogged each candidate over the past few months: whether Vallas is actually a Republican and if Johnson supports reducing funding for the police department. Ahern played a clip from a 2009 interview where Vallas said he was ‘more of a Republican than Democrat,’ which has surfaced in attacks ads in recent months. Vallas has since tried to distance himself from the interview. He said Wednesday he was a “lifelong Democrat” and cited his many political runs over the past decade as a member of the Democratic Party. ‘I’ve always declared and I’ve always registered in the Democratic primary. So my history has always been that of a Democrat,’ he said.”
Vallas has gotten backing from former Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, White’s protégé Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), and businessman and former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson.
Johnson has garnered support from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and various progressive alderpeople.
Both candidates pledged Wednesday to continue Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West initiative, which focuses investment on the city’s historically underserved South and West sides. Both vowed to expand the program’s parameters and goals.
Late yesterday, Christopher Cadelago and Shia Kapos, reporting for Politico, jumped into the fray about whether or not Vallas is really a Democrat by reporting on him disparaging President and Michelle Obama and Joe Biden at different times. He also described Democratic Illinois senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth as rubber-stamp votes for Biden, a pure Illinois GOP talking point. Cadelago and Kapo noted that Vallas “has regularly aligned himself with conservative-leaning outlets and organizations, and his endorsement by the Fraternal Order of Police helped shore up his crime-fighting bona fides. Vallas also spoke at a fundraiser for Awake Illinois, a far-right organization that trafficks in transphobic and homophobic rhetoric.
On the Morning Answer program, Vallas was a regular substitute for co-host Dan Proft, a conservative political activist who lives in Florida but is a former Illinois resident. Proft ran a political action committee that spent more than $14.5 million last year trying to elect Trump-allied Republican Darren Bailey against Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
The shows commonly featured discussions about public safety and Vallas’ concerns about crime— a hallmark of his mayoral campaign. But national politics frequently came up, too.
In one episode, Vallas spoke with conservative economist Stephen Moore. The two discussed Biden’s vetting process of nominees and whether he was aware of happenings in his own administration. “Not a lot,” Vallas said, agreeing with Moore.
In an earlier appearance on the radio show, in September 2021, Vallas visibly rolled his eyes as the hosts listened to a promotional video for the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side narrated by Michelle and Barack Obama. While the Obama video rolled, Vallas whispered over a hot mic that the library complex is actually in Hyde Park— and that “Hyde Park’s not the South Side.”
The Hyde Park neighborhood, which is home to the Obamas, is the site for the Obama Presidential Center.
“Hyde Park was probably one area of the city that didn’t need a half-billion dollar investment,” Vallas said later in the show. As the program played audio of Barack Obama saying his family is working with people who care about Chicago as much as they do, Vallas is heard whispering: “that’s why they’re living in Martha’s Vineyard.”
“They are partying in Martha’s Vineyard with no masks,” he added later, a reference to pictures that had previously surfaced from the former president’s 60th birthday party where guests were seen dancing and maskless.
…“Paul Vallas is a Republican because Democrats don’t go on conservative talk radio shows and insult Joe Biden, Barack and Michelle Obama, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth,” Johnson spokesperson Bill Neidhardt said in response to an inquiry from Politico.