Two candidates endorsed by UE’s Western Region won important elections yesterday. Judge Janet Protasiewicz was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court by a 55-45 margin, and Brandon Johnson, a former rank-and-file member and organizer with the Chicago Teachers’ Union, was elected mayor of Chicago.
Protasiewicz’s victory was an important step towards undoing the stranglehold that right-wing, anti-worker Republicans have had over the state legislature for over a decade. Since 2011, Republicans have ruthlessly and corruptly gerrymandered Wisconsin’s electoral maps in order to guarantee themselves a permanent majority in the statehouse — even when a majority of voters oppose them. In the 2022 elections, only 49 percent of voters voted for Republicans, yet they were awarded 70 percent of the seats in the state legislature.
The previous majority on the Supreme Court has upheld these rigged electoral maps, guaranteeing that the anti-union and anti-worker laws rammed through by Governor Scott Walker a decade ago have remained in effect — even though voters removed Walker from office in 2018. With Protasiewicz on the court, there is now a chance to establish fair electoral maps.
The Chicago mayoral race offered a clear, “Them and Us” choice between Johnson, the former union member and organizer, and Paul Vallas, a former CEO of Chicago’s public school system who pushed for privatization and underfunded workers’ pensions.
Public safety was a key issue in the race, with Vallas hoping that his “tough on crime” posturing would distract voters from his close alliance with wealthy developers. Ultimately, though, voters instead endorsed Johnson’s vision of improving public safety by investing in housing, education, and health care, while protecting the rights of all people.