Former Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Paul Vallas is projected to advance in Chicago’s mayoral race, putting him one step closer to the city’s top office amid backlash to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s (D) tenure, according to The Associated Press.

The former CPS CEO needed to be among the top two candidates with the most votes in order to advance to the runoff given the unlikeliness that any one candidate would outright win at least half of the vote on Tuesday. 

Vallas last ran for mayor in 2019, though he was unable to make it into the runoff that year, which saw Lightfoot elected.

He leaned into tough-on-crime messaging during the race in an election where public safety was ranked in some polling as a top issue among voters. He’s also backed by the Fraternal Order of Police.

In a sign of the competitive nature of the race, Lightfoot and other candidates targeted Vallas, casting him as a Republican. The Chicago mayor has also targeted him over his position on abortion. Vallas has dismissed the attacks, saying he’s a “lifelong pro-choice Democrat.”

The Chicago mayoral runoff is set for April 4.