Chicago Mayor Johnson suggests Trump voters to blame for failure of city’s tax hike referendum


Democratic Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson appeared to blame Trump voters in his reaction to a failed referendum he supported. 

On Tuesday, Chicago residents struck down the “Bring Chicago Home” referendum that promised $100 million in new tax revenue to combat the homeless crisis in the city by hiking the tax on heftier real estate purchases. Voters rejected the tax proposal by over a 7-point margin, representing a difference of more than 22,000 voters, according to the latest votes counted. 

During Wednesday’s post-election press conference, Johnson cited the “38,000” Chicago residents who had voted for former President Trump, saying there’s a “good chance” they were behind the referendum’s failure.

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Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson complained that a referendum he supported that would take in $100 million in annual tax revenue for his city was blocked by the majority of voters. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“It’s also not lost on me, I think there were 38,000 Republicans that showed up and voted for Donald Trump, or something like that, in Chicago,” Johnson said. “If we’re trying to draw some conclusions, and you all want some other, you know, analytics you might want to discover, that might be something to look into because there’s- I’ll just say there’s a good chance that that played a part in this referendum. 

“So the same people who want to see Donald Trump become [president again], those are the same voters who voted for him, are the same voters where, you look at there were more of those, they were concentrated there.”

According to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners’ website, there were roughly 37,000 total Republican primary voters who turned out for Tuesday’s primary. Roughly 29,000 of those cast their ballot for Trump, who earned 78.5% support. 

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The Chicago Tribune reported that if the referendum had passed, it would upend the city’s flat 0.75% tax and hike it for multi-million dollar properties. 

“Properties purchased at less than $1 million would see their rate cut to 0.6%. Properties purchased between $1 million and $1.5 million would have a 0.6% tax on the first $999,999 of the sale price and 2% on the rest. Sales above $1.5 million would pay 0.6% on the first $999,999, 2% on the next $500,000, and 3% on the rest,” The Tribune wrote

Trump supporters

Johnson suggested “38,000” Trump voters were to blame for blocking the “Bring Chicago Home” referendum push during Tuesday’s elections. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Johnson rejected the notion from opponents to the referendum that his administration didn’t have a plan for what it would do with the $100 million in newfound revenue, saying it would have gone through a “community process,” which he touted was “central to my style of leadership.”

“We have one in five Black children particularly who experience homelessness, you got 68,000 people who are unhoused, building more affordable housing, making sure that we have pathways to affordable rent in this city, multi-unit buildings,” Johnson said. “Again, where the neighborhoods who are most impacted by this issue, they knew exactly what they were voting for. That’s why I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that where there are more yeses is where there’s a greater concentration of those who are unhoused.” 

“So, the question that I would ask is, the people who are most impacted understood the assignment. The question is, the people who are not as impacted, how do we make sure that they understand the assignment even if they’re not impacted? Or the point of pain is is where we should actually lead. And the people of Chicago, where that point of pain is quite potent, they’re very clear about what this was about,” he continued.

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Chicago referendum sign

Chicago voters rejected a real estate tax referendum by a 7-point margin in Tuesday’s election that would have hiked the tax rate for major property purchases in the city. ( Jacek Boczarski/Anadolu via Getty Images)

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The Democratic mayor went on to call opponents of the referendum “cowardly.”

“I don’t know what’s in their heart. I could just say that they were actively working against a measure that would raise revenue to address the homelessness crisis, of which 70% of the folks are Black,” Johnson said. “The stories that got drowned out by those interests were the stories of individual families who have suffered in this city because we have not had enough revenue to address this crisis. So it’s organizing and messaging, you know… I’m still very hopeful and charged to address this crisis, as well as other issues that we’re faced with in this city. That even when we experienced, you know, moments like this, we don’t ever quit. We don’t quit on the people in Chicago.”



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