Key union endorsements could cut both ways.
Two powerful labor unions that Ms. Lightfoot clashed with repeatedly — the conservative local branch of the Fraternal Order of Police and the liberal Chicago Teachers Union — have steered their supporters to two of her opponents. How much those endorsements will help or hurt remains an open question.
Mr. Vallas received the police union endorsement, which could be crucial in consolidating support among right-leaning voters and supporters of the police. But that endorsement has been used as an attack line by Ms. Lightfoot, and it may be a liability among Chicagoans who do not trust the Police Department or who disapprove of the union’s frequently brash rhetoric and coziness with Republican politicians, including Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.
The Chicago Teachers Union, basically the political opposite of the police union, gave its endorsement to Mr. Johnson, a Cook County commissioner and teacher running on an unabashedly progressive platform.
The teachers’ union has emerged over the last decade as a powerful player in Chicago politics, engaging in repeated work stoppages, fighting with the last two mayors and putting forth a liberal vision for the city that extends beyond education issues. Its endorsement is now a coveted seal of approval on the progressive left.
But after a bruising fight between that union and Ms. Lightfoot over Covid-19 school reopenings and precautions, and in a city where many residents name crime and public safety as their top concern, it is not yet clear what impact the teachers’ endorsement might have.
Race has long been a factor in Chicago politics.
Chicago, which has a long history of racial and ethnic groups voting as blocs, has roughly equal numbers of white, Black and Hispanic residents. This year’s mayoral field has seven Black contenders (including Ms. Lightfoot and Mr. Johnson), one white candidate (Mr. Vallas) and one Hispanic candidate (Mr. García).
Beyond the four candidates leading in the latest polls, others retain significant support and hopes of squeezing into the runoff. Willie Wilson, a businessman who is locally famous for giving away gasoline and $100 bills, finished in fourth place in the 2019 mayoral election and is running again this year on a promise to clamp down on crime. Though Mr. Wilson, who is Black, has a strong base of working-class Black supporters, he has struggled in past campaigns to win votes outside of the South and West Sides.