Former Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin’s political comeback fell far short Tuesday night as he tried to unseat rival Toni Preckwinkle for Cook County Board President.
On election day in the Democratic Primary where voter turnout in Chicago was at just 20 percent, Boykin suffered a landslide defeat to Preckwinkle who was re-elected for a fourth time since taking office in 2010.
Tuesday’s Primary was her largest victory as Cook County Board President as she took 75.3 percent of the vote to Boykin’s 24.7 percent.
The victory vindicated Preckwinkle and reaffirmed her status as the modern day “Boss” of Cook County politics, nearly three years after she was crushed by political rookie Lori Lightfoot in the Chicago mayoral runoff in 2019.
Though she is a big name in Cook County politics, Preckwinkle didn’t take Boykin lightly during the Primary campaign race. She ran a flurry of television campaign ads weeks leading up to the Primary election. On Tuesday, June 28, she was seen visiting a precinct in Hyde Park with Governor J.B. Pritzker and she won the endorsement of the Chicago Tribune.
When the election returns rolled in after the polls in Chicago closed at 7 p.m., Preckwinkle jumped out to a big early lead. By 7:30 she had 73.7 percent of the vote with just 21 percent of nearly 3,500 precincts reporting their numbers.
As the night went on, she kept a big lead and never gave Boykin a chance. By 8:30, with votes in from nearly 3,000 precincts, Preckwinkle was guaranteed a victory and her opponent’s political fate had been sealed.
Preckwinkle was automatically re-elected because she has no Republican opponent for the General Election in November.
After declaring victory Tuesday night, Preckwinkle said in a statement, “I extend my deepest gratitude to the voters who have supported me in the primary election and I look forward to another term in November. I’m grateful that Cook County voters have entrusted me to run the nation’s second-largest county in the country for the past 12 years, and I look forward to all the good work that lies ahead.”
Hopes were running high for Boykin and his supporters after he launched his campaign in February to unseat the incumbent, who orchestrated his re-election defeat in 2018 as Cook County Commissioner.
In a large conference room at the South Loop Hotel in Bronzeville on Tuesday night, the mood was quiet and somber as about 26 people waited for Boykin before he entered the room at around 8:40 to give a speech. He thanked his mother, who sat in the front row and he thanked Reverend Dr. Bill Crowder, who gave a passionate prayer asking for Divine comfort to help Boykin after his defeat.
Gracious and composed, Boykin said, “Obviously, the voters have spoken and I stand behind their decision. I think they got it wrong but I stand with them because I believe in democracy. I commend President Preckwinkle on her re-election as president of the County Board.
“We’re going to stay engaged on the issues. We’re going to make sure that we hold people accountable. We have to do everything we can to get people awake, to get them out to vote. Today, was perhaps one of the lowest voter turnouts in the history of our county. Sometimes the best team doesn’t always win.”
For Boykin’s supporters, the loss was devastating after he campaigned hard during the election season with a message that focused heavily on crime and making Cook County affordable for residents amid inflation at the gas pump and supermarkets.
Unlike his 2020 loss for Cook County Circuit Court Clerk, Boykin campaigned heavily for Chicago’s Black vote as he visited Black churches along with former Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, who did not attend her client’s election night watch party.
After his speech, Boykin hugged and shook hands with his supporters. A disc jockey played an upbeat dance song, but few clapped as the music did little to boost the music in the room. One male supporter said, “We’re still in your corner.”
In a brief interview with the Crusader, Boykin said low voter turnout played a big role in the Primary election results.
“I think it was a very huge factor,” he said. “People are dispirited, they’re struggling and I think they lost faith in government. They’ve lost faith in politicians. We tried to do everything we could to convey the message of change and safe streets, safe neighborhoods and affordability.”
From 2014 to 2018, Boykin served as Cook County Commissioner of the 1st District. During his term, Boykin has publicly opposed Preckwinkle in particular over a tax on soda that Preckwinkle had spearheaded. With Boykin leading the way, the County Board eventually repealed the soda tax.
In the Democratic primary in 2018, Boykin received hundreds of thousands in anti-pop-tax money. Preckwinkle endorsed Boykin’s opponent, newcomer Brandon Johnson, who received hundreds of thousands of dollars from labor unions and a $5,000 campaign donation from Preckwinkle. In 2019, Johnson edged out Boykin in the District 1 race.