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Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas.
Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas.NBC News / Getty Images

Chicago ad messages show divide on crime for final candidates

Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas are the two finalists in the race, but they come from two separate wings of the Democratic party.


With the defeat of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in Tuesday's election, voters will face a choice between two Democrats with a stark ideological divide for April's runoff.

Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson, the two remaining candidates, have distinct policy visions that have come through clearly in each candidate's campaign TV ads.

Vallas is the former CEO of city schools, whose campaign spent over $4.3 million on ads in the primary, per ad tracking firm AdImpact. In his ads, Vallas highlights his support of LGBTQ rights and diversity, but puts his focus on crime and safety at the forefront.

In many of his ads, a narrator actually repeats the slogan, "Paul Vallas: a mayor who will put crime and your safety first."

In one ad, Vallas tells voters he'd like to put more police on the streets.

He adds, "We can't turn Chicago around until we are safe to walk our streets. Protecting you has to be the mayor's top priority, and on my watch, it will be."

Johnson, on the other hand, is running a more progressive campaign. He has a history of supporting calls to defund the police, though he hasn't brought up that idea since he started running for mayor.

In his ads, Johnson, a Cook County Commissioner, doesn't just talk about how he'll direct the police force, but also about social plans to reduce crime.

In one ad, he highlights a plan to "deploy mental health professionals to respond to mental health crises so that police can focus on truly violent offenses." The same ad mentions his plan to expand youth jobs and "invest in people."

Other ads mention crime far less and instead highlight Johnson's desire to "[make] the city work better for all of us."

Johnson spent slightly less than Vallas ahead of Tuesday's election —just $3 million — but his message to "get tough and smart about reducing crime," still seems to have resonated with Chicago voters.