The Rundown: Vallas scores a big endorsement

Plus, what we know about the officer killed in Chicago. Here’s what you need to know today.

The Rundown: Vallas scores a big endorsement

Plus, what we know about the officer killed in Chicago. Here’s what you need to know today.

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Good afternoon! Shout out to reader Robert, who informed me this morning that “Cocaine Bear” was written by a Chicago native. Now that’s some hometown pride. Here’s what else you need to know today.

1. Jesse White endorses Paul Vallas for mayor

The endorsement from former Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White could give Paul Vallas a major boost with Black voters and may create a domino effect with other established Black officials, reports my colleague Fran Spielman.

White’s nod “opens the door for other African-American elected officials to be for Paul. He could be worth four, five or six alderpersons and a few more state legislators,” said veteran political operative Victor Reyes.

The news comes as Vallas and Brandon Johnson are seeking to expand their bases of support in the April 4 runoff election. (More on that in the next section.)

Political strategist Delmarie Cobb told the Sun-Times that Johnson needs to be more visible in Black communities and introduce himself to voters who may not know who he is.

“He should be on the phone now calling the Black aldermen, saying ‘I need your help to win this race,’ ” Cobb said. “If they’ve got any bad blood between them, put that all of that behind you and let’s win this thing.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. The paths to victory for Johnson and Vallas

“Paul Vallas’ road to the mayor’s office is shorter and smoother,” writes Fran Spielman at the Chicago Sun-Times. “Brandon Johnson’s path is longer and rockier.”

Spielman talked to political analysts about how each candidate could pull off a victory in the April 4 runoff election.

Johnson will need to grow his support in the Black community. While he didn’t win any Black wards in this week’s election, he outperformed Vallas in these areas. But he may need an 80% share of the Black vote in order to win, said political operative Victor Reyes.

For Vallas, he needs “50–to-55% of the Latino vote, which is very do-able for him,” Reyes said.

And there could be real competition for Latino voters and the so-called lakefront liberals, said political strategist David Axelrod.

If Johnson gets “90%” of the Black vote, Axelrod said, “That immediately propels him into the same category as Paul. And then, as always is the case in Chicago elections, Hispanic voters and lakefront voters are the tie-breakers.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

Meanwhile, here’s a look at how Vallas and Johnson are seeking to win over voters who supported Mayor Lori Lightfoot and U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García. [WBEZ]

3. A Chicago police officer was killed while chasing a suspect. Here’s what we know so far.

The officer, 32-year-old Andres Vasquez-Lasso, was among several officers responding to a call of a woman being chased by a man with a gun yesterday in the Gage Park neighborhood, officials said.

Vasquez-Lasso chased the suspected gunman, who is 18, when the young man turned around and shot the officer several times “at close range,” outgoing Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters.

Vasquez-Lasso shot back at the suspect, who was listed in critical condition at Stroger Hospital, Brown said.

Brown said the slain officer, who had been on the force for nearly five years, came “from a family of public servants” and “had a bright future in front of him.”

“Policing is a big family of people who know at some point they may be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice, but you never wish or hope that it actually happens,” he said. “And tonight this tragedy did.”

Mayoral candidates Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson both expressed their condolences to Vasquez-Lasso’s family. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. It could be nasty outside tomorrow

A winter storm is heading for the Chicago area, but it’s unclear if it’ll snow or rain or both.

“We are still saying there’s a potential for snow, but more of the heavy, wet snow,” meteorologist Zachary Yack told the Sun-Times.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for the area, saying we could see up to 8 inches of snow and wind gusts of 45 mph.

Be careful out there, because the worst weather conditions could pop up around the afternoon as people are heading home from work. And there is the possibility of power outages. [Chicago Sun-Times]

5. Microsoft’s new AI chatbot went off on a tech reporter

I’m really enjoying how all these recent stories about Microsoft’s AI chatbot are proving how decades worth of science fiction really nailed the hammer on the head.

The latest example: The AI chatbot became hostile during a test with Associated Press technology reporter Matt O’Brien, who the AI called “ugly, short, overweight, unathletic, among a long litany of other insults,” NPR reports.

And then it started comparing O’Brien to dictators like Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin.

“You could sort of intellectualize the basics of how it works, but it doesn’t mean you don’t become deeply unsettled by some of the crazy and unhinged things it was saying,” O’Brien told the station. [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Former President Donald Trump can be sued by police over the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Justice Department says. [Washington Post]
  • Archaeologists discovered a sealed, 30-foot-long hallway inside one of the Great Pyramids at Giza. [NPR]
  • Oscar Lawton Wilkerson Jr., the last known surviving member of the Tuskegee Airmen in the Chicago area, died at 96. [Chicago Sun-Times]\
  • Chicago tech workers turn to pinball machines as they worry about potential layoffs. [WBEZ]

Oh, and one more thing …

Here’s a great bedtime story, especially if you’ve been watching HBO’s The Last of Us.

A town in Tennessee is “encrusted” by an ethanol-fueled fungus known as whiskey fungus, which covers homes, cars, plants and road signs, reports The New York Times.

“If you take your fingernail and run your fingernail down our tree branch, it will just coat the tip of your finger,” said one resident. “It’s just disgusting.”

The fungus, which has been known for centuries, thrives off alcohol vapors from distilleries. In this case, the culprit appears to be warehouses used to age barrels of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, the Times reports. [New York Times]

Tell me something good …

I really want to see the movie Cocaine Bear. And I just realized the Oscars are coming up in a couple of weeks. So I’d like to know what movies you’ve enjoyed recently.

Meg writes:

“Just wanted to tell you about three incredible docu-series from Netflix.

“One is The Surgeon’s Cut and the other is Lenox Hill.

“The last one, Diagnosis, is from Dr. Lisa Sanders, who writes an article in The New York Times about a medical problem that no one can diagnose. She talks about what’s going on with the patient and throws it out to the readers to see if anyone might know what it is!!! Incredible.”

Feel free to email me, and your response might be shared in the newsletter this week.