Chicago mayoral candidate Paul Vallas said he is “disappointed” in the Fraternal Order of Police for inviting Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis To address the city police.

Vallas, who has been supported by the controversial union in its city hall bid which represents most of Chicago’s rank-and-file police officers, has been criticized for its ties to the FOP and conservative supporters, but issued a statement aimed at allaying those concerns.

Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas speaks with attendees during the Mayor's Forum on Jan. 26, 2023.

“I completely agree with (Illinois Gov. JB) Pritzker that there is no place in Chicago for a right-wing extremist like Ron DeSantis, and I am disappointed in the FOP leadership for inviting him to speak with officials,” Vallas said in a statement. DeSantis’ record of trying to eradicate the LGBTQ community, ban books on black history, and more is not consistent with my values, the values ​​of our community, or the values ​​of the rank-and-file police officers I believe in. ​He has no interest in getting swept up in the culture wars and politics of the national Republican Party.

In the statement, Vallas said he wanted to “build trust between all of Chicago’s communities and police by holding everyone accountable, because that’s the only way we can make our city safer.” The FOP’s decision to invite DeSantis, Vallas said, “makes that job harder.”

Vallas’ association with Chicago’s FOP has been a recurring controversy. As he makes his second bid for mayor of Chicago and describes himself as “lifelong democrat“Vallas has inspired walks on law and order and other subjects that have been drawn support from conservatives in the city and state.

Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas enters a Fraternal Order of Police event after speaking to the media in the lobby of La Villa Strada restaurant on February 6, 2023 in Chicago.

Whereas Vallas does not want to lose conservative supporters – many in the north-west and south-west that could propel him forward in the February 28 election – the city he is to win on April 4. Can’t separate the rest of the parts either. ,

as Vallas tries to strike at her Balance, he has faced attacks from rivals that he is actually a Republican, an allegation they hope will sink his campaign. Despite flirting with a Republican campaign for Cook County Board President in 2010, Vallas responded by defending his record and arguing that he only ran for the office as a Democrat.

Nevertheless, Vallas has drawn criticism for his association with conservatives, including firebrand FOP president John Catanzara. Catanzara retired from the Chicago Police Department, facing possible termination after a career as one of the department’s most disciplined officers. He has also made several offensive statements, including defending protesters on January 6 after the Capitol uprising and comparing Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate to the Holocaust.

Catanzara is also a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump and regularly appears at City Council meetings in a Trump jersey.

Vallas repeatedly sidestepped questions about his support from the FOP and Catanzara, saying that support “comes from the rank-and-file” and argued that this would help him implement reforms.

Vallas said, “Since I have the support of the rank-and-file, I have been able to do something when it comes to police accountability and enforcing the consent decree.” “I am talking about the rank-and-file police. You have to deal with FOP if you want to make real progress.”

Attempting to position himself as a centrist rather than a rightist, Vallas made other moves. He has repeatedly criticized Lightfoot for making false statements that an officer cannot be fired, leading Inspector General Deborah Witzberg to say he should be terminated. His association with the Proud Boys hate group. The officer received suspension from the police department, which Lightfoot saved In that case as a fitting punishment.

After Vallas criticized the FOP, he faced backlash from a more unexpected source: fellow candidate Willie Wilson, the only other candidate receiving FOP support. Wilson said that Vallas should reject the FOP endorsement.

Wilson said that DeSantis addressing law enforcement during Black History Month is “unwise and sends the wrong signal.” Wilson also said that the FOP “has an obligation to unite law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

DeSantis is scheduled to appear at an invite-only FOP event in Elmhurst on Monday.

Catanzara released a video later Friday saying the union had not invited DeSantis, but was promoting the talk to a law enforcement audience of Florida’s governor. A post on the union website said that DeSantis would “appreciate your support in a program … To Back the Blue!”

On an unrelated visit to McDonald’s headquarters on Friday, Pritzker was asked about DeSantis’ visit.

“Well, he doesn’t represent the values ​​of the people of Illinois; In fact, he is its antithesis. He’s demonstrated that he’s homophobic, that he tends to promote racism, that, you know, he’s someone that doesn’t mix well with the values ​​of the people of the state of Illinois,” Pritzker said. “Every elected official and every candidate for office should call him out and condemn what he stands for.

Hank Sanders of the Tribune contributed.

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