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Democratic bona fides flare in race for state attorney


As early voting begins in Chicago on Monday, intraparty attacks on the progressive credentials of both Democratic candidates for Cook County state’s attorney intensified.

Clayton Harris III joined a host of supporters, including pastors, elected officials, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Anjanette Young, at Federal Plaza on Monday for a news conference highlighting the influx of campaign money and support for primary rival Eileen O’Neill Burke. he suggested. she is a “Democrat in name only”.

University professor Harris and retired appellate judge O’Neill Burke, both former attorneys for the office, are the only candidates seeking to replace outgoing State Attorney Kim Foxx in the Democratic primary. The winner of the March 19 primary will face Republican Bob Fioretti and Libertarian Andrew Charles Kopinski in November.

But predominantly Democratic Cook County has not elected a Republican as attorney general in 32 years; That means the winner of this race will likely be the one running the office this time next year, and the Republican moniker could do serious damage in the polls. box.

In the final weeks of the campaign, O’Neill Burke highlighted her own family’s union history and her proposal to create a dedicated pro-choice unit in the office as strengths in campaign ads and mailers, while portraying Harris’ previous work as a corporate insider. He is a lobbyist for Lyft and CH2M Hill and has donated to an anti-choice candidate in the past as a flaw. Harris also taught at the University of Chicago after working in various public sector roles in the city and state.

On Monday, Harris said Friday’s big-dollar campaign contributions to O’Neill Burke should give voters pause because many donors have supported Republicans in the past.

“You have to be very concerned about where these dollars are coming from and why they’re going to one district and not another,” Harris said, with Citadel’s offices in the background, and said “far-right conservatives are funding it.” ‘Neill Burke.

He has two major donors from the Citadel: Gerald Beeson and Matthew Simon. Both have donated both locally to Democrats like Paul Vallas and Rahm Emanuel and to Republicans nationwide. In recent years, Beeson has contributed to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Kelly Loeffler and Thom Tillis, while Simon has contributed to the John Bolton Super PAC.

“There is no candidate more qualified to reduce gun violence and make Cook County safer for everyone,” Beeson previously told the Tribune.

O’Neill Burke’s largest donor to date is Daniel O’Keefe, chief executive of the global investment firm Artisan Partners, who has been a partner in national races in recent years with U.S. Senate candidates Herschel Walker, Dr. He donated thousands to Republicans, including Mehmet Oz and JD Vance. in 2022 and Kelly Loeffler in 2020.

“Eileen O’Neill Burke ran solely as a Democrat and was elected judge. She only voted in the Democratic primaries. “Claims to the contrary are patently false,” his campaign said, highlighting the support of fellow Democrats and “more than a dozen labor unions.”

It received a total of $137,000 from two PACs for electrical workers and operating engineers, following a flood of donations from business leaders on Friday. In total, he raised more than $2 million, while Harris raised just over $830,000.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who is also the chair of the county’s Democratic Party, joined Harris on Monday in being more forthright in her assessment of O’Neill Burke.

“Unless you share those principles and values, you can’t take money from these people who have those kinds of principles and values,” Preckwinkle said. O’Neill also said Burke gave a “disastrous” presentation to the district’s Democrats last summer. The party has endorsed Harris.

O’Neill Burke’s campaign credits Harris with contributing to “anti-abortion radical” Ethan Hastert. Harris gave $250 in 2009 to Hastert, who was trying to fill his father Dennis Hastert’s former seat. Harris is a supporter of abortion rights, and her campaign said this was a “cherry-picked contribution from 20 years ago” and that it paled in comparison to O’Neill Burke’s donor pool.

An ad from her campaign alleges that Harris “diverted tens of thousands of dollars in political donations to anti-choice Republicans in Illinois” while in Lyft

Harris’ camp says this is wrong: Lyft’s donations were directed by a nominating and corporate governance committee and approved by the company’s chief policy officer, not by lower-level employees like Harris at the time.

Harris also highlighted on Monday O’Neill Burke’s refusal to “admit any wrongdoing” in the trial of an 11-year-old boy who a judge later found was wrongly convicted of murder, calling it “very extreme.”

Preckwinkle agreed. “We live in a county and state with a tremendous number of wrongful convictions – the current state attorney general has found that over 250 people were wrongfully convicted,” he said. “We cannot go back to a time when wrongful convictions were standard operating procedure in Cook County and ten-year-old boys were found guilty of murdering older women who weighed three times their weight. This is ridiculous.”



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