Chicago mayor’s race dominated by concerns about city crime

For years, Republicans have sought to win over voters by depicting Democratic-led cities as lawless centers of violence that need tough-on-crime policies. In Chicago, some of the Democrats running for mayor are deploying the same strategy as they debate how to make the city safer.

One leading candidate, who touts his endorsement from the Chicago police union, says “crime is out of control” and the city needs hundreds more officers patrolling its streets. Another hopeful says that if suspects flee a crime scene, officers should be able to “hunt them down like a rabbit.”

Even incumbent Lori Lightfoot, the first Black woman and first openly gay person to serve as Chicago mayor, has used language right out of the GOP playbook, saying a top rival in her reelection bid wants to defund the police.

The shift in rhetoric reflects the degree to which concerns about crime have dominated Tuesday’s mayoral election in Chicago and threatened Lightfoot’s reelection bid. Far from being an outlier, the nation’s third-largest city is just the latest Democratic stronghold where public safety has become a top election issue.