By Erick Johnson
Black voters in Chicago on Tuesday, March 17 pushed through a global health crisis, and problem-plagued Illinois Primary to give Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx a dominant win for the Democratic nomination.
But it wasn’t just Black voters who vindicated Foxx at the polls. White and Latino voters helped put her over the top.
While she swept all 18 predominately Black wards, Foxx also crossed ethnic lines and took away many non-Black wards from her three opponents, according to a survey of the election results from Chicago’s 50 wards.
The Crusader found that Foxx won a total of 35 of Chicago’s 50 wards, that includes eight white wards and seven Latino wards.
Foxx’s biggest opponent, Bill Conway, a former assistant Cook County prosecutor who is white, captured 15 wards, including seven Latino wards and eight white wards.
Two other opponents, attorney Donna More and former Alderman Bob Fioretti did not win any wards.
Foxx nearly beat Conway in two wards. In the Latino 30th Ward, Conway won by just 29 votes, getting 2,405 votes to Foxx’s 2,376. In the white 43rd Ward, Conway won by just 87 votes.
Foxx’s biggest margin of victory in the Black wards was the 21st Ward, which covers parts of Auburn Gresham, Washington Heights, Gresham, Chatham and Roseland. Foxx grabbed 87.19 percent of 11,286 votes cast.
In the 34th Ward on the Far South Side Foxx won 86.88 percent of the 9,858 ballots that were cast.
Overall, there were 10 Black wards where Foxx grabbed over 80 percent of the vote.
Among the non-Black wards, Foxx’s biggest margin of victory was from the 49th Ward, where she took 63.29 percent of the vote. In 2019, the 49th Ward elected Maria Hadden, a Black alderman. Historically, white residents made up the 49th Ward, which covers a large swath of Rogers Park. But in recent years, the 49th Ward has gained a large population of Latino and Black residents.
Foxx also dominated three other white wards. They include the 48th Ward, where Foxx took 55.94 percent of the 12,033 votes.
Over 50 percent of the votes that were cast in the 1st, 40th, 46th and 47th Wards, were won by Foxx.
Foxx’s biggest loss was in the 41st Ward, where she grabbed only 15.65 percent of 10,325 votes cast. Conway won the ward with 62.13 percent of the vote.
In 2016, 54.60 percent of the ward’s voters picked Anita Alvarez over Foxx, despite Alvarez’s damaged reputation sustained after she waited 13 months to charge Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke with first degree murder for fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. The 41st Ward covers neighborhoods on the Far Northwest Side, including Edison Park, Edgebrook, Norwood Park and O’Hare.
In Cook County’s suburban townships, Foxx took the overall vote, grabbing 43.25 percent of 385,195 votes cast to Conway’s 35.8 percent. Conway was expected to do better in suburban townships where there are more white, affluent voters. Despite the odds, Foxx still came out on top.
The results in Chicago and suburban townships defied predictions of a political race that was expected to be decided along racial and ethnic lines.
Overall in Chicago’s 50 wards, Foxx won 50.2 percent of the 937,909 votes that were cast in the Democratic Primary, according to the latest figures from the Chicago Board of Elections. Conway won 27.61 percent of the vote.
Foxx now heads to the General Election in November, where she will face Republican challenger Patrick “Pat” O’Brien, who crushed opponent Christopher E. K. Pfannkuche in Chicago and Cook County suburban townships. Cook County hasn’t had a Republican States’ Attorney since 1990 when Jack O’Malley defeated Cecil Partee, the first Black Cook County States’ Attorney. O’Malley was re-elected four years later.
For Foxx, the victory was vindication after she endured a year of criticism after her office dropped 16 charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.
He was accused of staging a homophobic hate crime in 2019 in the Streeterville neighborhood. Weeks before the primary Special Prosecutor Dan Webb charged Smollett with six new charges in a move that was viewed as an attempt to further smear Foxx’s image and reelection hopes.
Throughout the campaign, Conway attacked Foxx about the Smollett case with television advertisements, as his billionaire father, William Conway, dumped $10.5 million into his son’s campaign, making it the most expensive Cook County State’s Attorney’s race in history.
Foxx persevered with endorsements from prominent political officials, including Governor J.B. Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lghtfoot, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Secretary of State Jesse White.
Foxx’s opponents’ little experience and resume were questioned throughout the campaign. In the end they helped Foxx by splitting the white vote.
There were calls for Governor Pritzker to postpone the election because of concerns of voters spreading the coronavirus. Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky and Ohio canceled their primaries that were scheduled for Tuesday, but Arizona, Florida and Illinois held their elections anyway.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden easily swept all three primaries, bringing Biden’s lead far ahead with a delegate count of 1132 to Bernie Sanders’ 817. The crushing victory led political analysts to crown Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee, while forcing Sanders to hold private meetings about his campaign’s future.
In other races, Congressmen Bobby Rush, Danny K. Davis and Robin Kelly easily won their Democratic nomination. State Representative Mary Flowers also won.
Votes were still being counted in the races for Cook County Circuit Court Clerk and Illinois Supreme Court Justice at Crusader press time Wednesday.
However, former Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin remained in third place in a race behind frontrunner Iris Martinez and Michael M. Cabonargi. With 2,002 of 2,069 precincts counted, Martinez led with 35.73 percent of 381.990 votes to Boykin’s 26.37 percent.
If Martinez, wins, it will be the first time in 20 years that Cook County will not have a Black person as Circuit Court Clerk. For Boykin, the race is shoring up as a disappointing comeback after he was defeated by a political rookie in 2018 with the help of rival Preckwinkle and labor unions.
In the race for Illinois Supreme Court Justice, with 2,002 of 2,069 precincts counted P. Scott Neville, Jr. led his six opponents with 26.79 percent of 391,021 votes cast.
Martinez and Neville also led in Cook County’s suburban townships.
Thousands of votes are still being counted after a wild election day where many precincts were closed after election workers stayed home because of the coronavirus. Many were forced to vote at precincts other than the one they were assigned, to cast their ballot.