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Races heat up as Early Voting begins next week


Early voting begins next week in Chicago as local and federal races heat up with nearly a month to go before the March 19 Primary. 

Early voting for the Democratic Primary begins February 15 in downtown Chicago at the Supersite, 191 N. Clark, and Board Offices, 69 W. Washington, 6th Floor. Both sites open at 9 a.m. 

On March 4, Early Voting expands to all 50 Wards in Chicago. 

It’s a big political year in Chicago as the Primary kicks off months of anticipation leading up to the 2024 Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August. 

In the presidential race, the Democratic winner of the Illinois Primary will pick up 147 delegates. About 1,967 delegates are needed for the Democratic presidential candidate to win the party’s nomination at the convention. 

President Joe Biden so far leads the race with 55 delegates after winning the Democratic Primary in South Carolina last week, the state where he won in dramatic fashion, in 2020. 

Four years later, amid declining Black voter support and low approval ratings, Biden is seeking the Democratic nomination again in his bid for a second term. 

He is running against three new political newcomers for the Democratic nomination. They include Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips, self-help author Marianne Williamson and activist Frank “Frankie” Lozada. 

Biden is expected to win the Democratic nomination. 

In the November 5 General Election, Biden will face the likely Republican nominee, President Donald Trump, who is expected to defeat former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador, Nikki Haley for the Republican nomination. 

He will also face Independent Party candidates Cornel West, Robert Joseph Kennedy Jr., and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. There are growing concerns the independent candidates will take Democratic votes away from Biden, giving Trump a greater chance of returning to the White House. 

In Chicago’s Black communities, voters will help decide the Democratic presidential candidate in addition to two other important races. 

In local races, voters will decide the race to replace outgoing Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Democratic candidates include Washington Park resident Clayton Harris III and former Illinois Appellate Court Judge Eileen O’Neill Burke. 

Harris served as a prosecutor under former Cook County State’s Attorney Richard Devine, who served from 1996 to 2008. Harris later served as an attorney for the Chicago Department of Transportation. 

Harris currently teaches a class on policing racial neighborhoods at the University of Chicago. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Technology from Middle Tennessee State University and his law degree from Howard University School of Law. Clayton earned his Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, where he has been a lecturer for the past 14 years. 

Burke, a former Illinois Appellate Court judge who once served as a prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, was born and raised on Chicago’s Northwest Side. She attended St. Mary of the Woods Grade School and Marillac High School before graduating from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and Chicago-Kent College of Law. 

Burke (no relation to convicted Alderman Ed Burke) served as a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney for 10 years before working as a criminal defense attorney. 

In 2016, Burke was elected Justice of the First District Appellate Court in Cook County. 

Burke recently made headlines after news outlets reported that in 1994, she prosecuted a 10-year-old Black boy known in court documents as A.M. The boy was convicted for the murder of Anna Gilvis, 83, a white woman who was found dead in her Marquette Park home in 1993. 

The boy’s first degree murder conviction was thrown out after a federal judge ruled that his confession to a detective was coerced and that he was questioned with no objective adults in the room. The boy’s fingerprints did not match those found at the scene. 

Burke last month told WVON 1690 that A.M. was at the crime scene as a witness and that she didn’t know Detective James Cassidy had a history of forcing false confessions from innocent people. 

The State’s Attorney’s race is expected to be a highly contested one after Foxx served two terms as a reformer in the Cook County justice system, where she threw out nearly 250 wrongful conviction cases. 

On Chicago’s West Side, the 7th Congressional District race is heating up as longtime incumbent Danny K. Davis is running for a 15th term. 

For the third time, Congressman Davis is being challenged by community activist Kina Collins. She nearly beat Davis in 2022, where Davis took 52.1 percent of the vote to Collins’ 45.5 percent. In Chicago, Davis won 11 of the 13 Black wards in his district. His biggest win came in the 16th Ward, where he took over 76 percent of the vote. 

Collins, a Chicago activist who has protested to end police misconduct, won two Black wards, including the 4th Ward, where she won over 55 percent of the vote. 

But the 7th Congressional race is more crowded this time around. There are a total of five candidates that include two newcomers and City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, who once suspended her campaign amid ethics concerns raised by an Inspector General’s Report. The probe found that Conyears-Ervin fired two staffers who accused her of unethical behavior. 

Davis, who is 82, on ABC 7 Chicago called Conyears-Ervin “ethically challenged.” 

Conyears-Ervin has been endorsed by Aldermen Jeanette Taylor (20th) and Chris Taliaferro (29th), who nearly lost reelection last year to CB Johnson, whom Davis endorsed. 

In other races, Congressmen Jonathan Jackson and Robyn Kelly are running unopposed in the Democratic Primary. In Illinois’ 4th Congressional District, Alderman Raymond Lopez is on the ballot against incumbent Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. 

In Chicago’s 6th, 7th and 8th Black wards, voters will decide on a referendum that calls for creating a Community Benefits Ordinance to protect renters from rising rents and displacements tied to the impending Obama Presidential Center and Library. 

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