CHICAGO — Chicago voters have just two weeks to make up their minds between Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas in the race for mayor.
A number of political heavy-hitters are hoping their endorsements will help sway the undecided voters.
Brandon Johnson is hoping to solidify a progressive coalition and is touting endorsements from two liberal leaders: Congressman Chuy Garcia and civil rights icon Rev. Jessee Jackson.
Paul Vallas spent Friday engaging voters on his plan to reduce crime, an issue that is dominating the campaign.
On Friday morning, Garcia endorsed Johnson for mayor.
“I see Brandon Johnson as the right choice,” Garcia said.
Garcia, once considered a frontrunner in the race, finished fourth in the first round of voting with 14%. But he remains a popular figure and Johnson is hoping Garcia’s organization will help drive up numbers in Hispanic and Latino enclaves.
“April 4, the Black and brown community, it’s about to be lit Chicago,” Johnson said.
Only about 32% of voters turned out for February’s election.
“The turnout in round one was disappointing,” Garcia said. “We think it will increase.”
Meantime, Paul Vallas criticized Johnson’s approach to dealing with what polls show is the top issue: violent crime.
“My opponent wants to defund the police, he does not want to fill the 11,000 vacancies,” Vallas said. “He does not want to bring back retired officers or other officers who have left to return without any loss of seniority. So at the end of the day, what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to refill the ranks.”
Johnson, however, said he isn’t going to defund the police.
“I’m not going to defund the police,” Johnson said. “Never said it. What we’re going to do is train and promote 200 more detectives.”
The battle for endorsements has been playing out for weeks.
Vallas has at least 20 council members and three of his rival candidates, along with the FOP and a number of trade unions.
Johnson’s endorsements include national leaders, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as the Chicago Teachers Union and several public sector unions.
“Every new endorsement is an opportunity for a camera and a story to be written too,” Jon Paul Valadez, a political expert, said.
Valadez is a director at the public affairs firm Kivvit. He said the endorsements can help convincing voters and with getting them to the polls.
“They can make a big impact in the coming days going into the election on April 4, because the ground game is going to be incredibly important because they need people to knock on doors, bring people out,” Valadez said.