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1979 Chicago mayoral election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chicago mayoral election, 1979

← 1977 (special) April 3, 1979 1983 →
Turnout61%[1] Increase 21 pp
JaneByrne1985 (a).jpg
Nominee Jane Byrne Wallace D. Johnson
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 700,874 137,664
Percentage 82.1% 16.1%

Mayor before election

Michael A. Bilandic

Elected Mayor

Jane Byrne

In the Chicago mayoral election of 1979 Democrat Jane Byrne defeated Republican Wallace Johnson by a landslide 66% margin of victory, winning more than 82% of the vote and becoming Chicago's first female mayor.[2]

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Primaries and nominations

Democratic primary

In what was regarded to be a major upset to the Chicago Democratic political machine, Jane Byrne succeeded in pulling off an insurgent challenge to incumbent mayor Michael Bilandic.[3]

Byrne, whom Bilandic had previously fired from the post of the city's Commissioner of Consumer Sales in 1977,[3][4] had launched an underdog challenge to Bilandic, who had received the backing of the Cook County Democratic Party.[3]

Turnout in the primary was among the greatest in Chicago mayoral history.[3] By some reports, turnout was 839,443, which was 58.97% of Chicago's 1,423,476 voters.[3] Turnout exceeded the average mayoral primary election turnout in the years since 1955 by more than 10 percentage points.[3]

Byrne had lambasted Bilandic's government's slow response to the 1979 Chicago blizzard, criticism which was greatly credited with fueling her upset victory.[5][6]

e • d 
Chicago Democratic Party Mayoral Primary, 1979[7][8]
Candidate Votes %
Jane Byrne 412,909 51.04%
Michael A. Bilandic (incumbent) 396,194 48.96%
Majority 16,775 2.07%
Total 809,043 100.00%

Byrne won a majority of the vote in 29 of the city's 50 wards, with Bilandic winning a majority in the remaining 21 wards.[8] She swept the city's black wards, winning more than 2/3 of votes from them.[3]

Republican primary

Wallace D. Johnson, an investment banker,[3] won a landslide victory in the Republican primary.

e • d 
Chicago Republican Party Mayoral Primary, 1979[9]
Candidate Votes % +/-
Wallace D. Johnson 18,268 86.39% N/A
Raymond G. Wardingley 2,877 13.61% N/A
Majority 15,391 72.79% N/A
Total 21,144 100.00% N/A

Socialist Workers nomination

The Socialist Workers Party nominated Andrew Pulley. Pulley had been the party's vice presidential nominee in 1972.[10]

General election

Mayor of Chicago 1979[11] (General Election)
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jane Byrne 700,874 82.05
Republican Wallace D. Johnson 137,663 16.12
Socialist Workers Andrew Pulley 15,625 1.83
Turnout 854,162

Byrne won a majority of the vote in each of the city's 50 wards.[11]


  1. ^ Denvir, Daniel (May 22, 2015). "Voter Turnout in U.S. Mayoral Elections Is  Pathetic, But It Wasn't Always This Way". City Lab (The Atlantic). Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Kneeland, Douglas A. (March 1, 1979). "Jane Byrne's Defeat of Mayor Shatters Image of Democratic Machine in Chicago". New York Times.
  4. ^,6168601
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Chicago elects Byrne". Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Me. April 4, 1979. p. 1. Retrieved June 17, 2012 – via Google News Archive.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c
  9. ^
  10. ^ Martin Waldron. The Socialist Campaign: Low Funds, High Hopes. St. Petersburg Times. January 2, 1972:9-A.
  11. ^ a b c "Election Results for 1979 General Election, Mayor, Chicago, IL".

This page was last edited on 19 June 2019, at 01:46
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