By Glenn Reedus, Chicago Crusader
The shocking win that placed reality TV star Donald Trump in the White House come January overshadowed news that Illinois has a new U.S. senator, as well as the unfolding story of a disqualified attorney prevailing in a judge’s race.
The contest between former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stretched into early Wednesday morning before Trump was declared the winner. Trump’s extremely unorthodox campaign style in which he denigrated the handicapped, Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, women, and Black folk had him pegged as a long shot by pundits, political analysts and the news media.
However, that approach resonated with legions of white voters, who, in turn, led the first-time candidate to victory.
The fact Iraqi war veteran Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-8) upended incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk was one of the area’s most highly-contested races got short shrift, locally and nationally. Kirk won President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat in 2010 and was elected to his own full term.
Alvin Boutte, Jr., a long-time political operative, said with the exception of the 1st, 2nd and 7th congressional district races, state voting reflected the national picture.
Illinois had the same pendulum swing as the nation. American and Illinois voters came out to vote against the establishment all the way down the ballot. Even Susana Mendoza winning Comptroller wasn’t so much about substance, as a vote against the state-wide establishment. I expect her to be a major driver for voter turnout for years to come.”
The Chicago area’s contingent of Black U.S. representatives emerged from their campaigns unscathed. Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-1) has been in Congress since 1993, and historically has beat opponents by an 85 percent margin. This election saw him besting Republican August Deuer with 90 percent of the vote.
Rush, a South Side Democrat, is proving to be the Teflon candidate. He was roundly criticized even by some in the party for what was considered excessive absences from his Congressional seat. He attributed that to the fact he was caring for his ailing wife. As pastor of Beloved Community Christian Church, he also has been under federal investigation over allegedly using federal grants to pay his wife, Carolyn, and giving other grant dollars to his church. The U.S. Army veteran has weathered all allegations.
U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7), like Rush, is a former City of Chicago alderman. He has served in Congress continually since 1996. In Tuesday’s election, he also steamrolled his Republican opponent, Jeffrey Leef. With 20 years seniority, Davis is a member of the House’s Ways and Means Committee. The committee writes U.S. tax laws and is a much sought-after appointment by members of Congress.
One of Congress’ newest members, Rep. Robin Kelly (D-2) also coasted to a win Tuesday drumming her Republican opponent, John Morrow, by a 79 percent margin. Kelly represents the district once held by Jesse Jackson, Jr. and comprised of much of the city’s South Side and South Suburbs.
Patrick Brutus, an opponent of Rush in the 2014 election, said he foresaw a Trump victory because of the size of the crowds at the candidate’s rallies and the overwhelmingly positive response he was receiving adding, “In my opinion, the country, media and pundits failed to factor this component in while evaluating his campaign, which in turn, further energized his campaign as they were seen as insignificant, labeled as ‘deplorables’ and marginalized as only ‘white uneducated’ voters from rural or suburban districts. This was a huge miscalculation and the final polling (Election Day returns) tells us the final verdict.
“Unfortunately, the Hillary for America campaign and the DNC did not execute the best strategies necessary to ensure victory.”
The last time voters decided to eliminate a county office was 44 years ago. It was 1972 when the Cook County coroner’s office was folded into the office of the medical examiner. On Tuesday, voters backed the referendum to marry the Cook County Recorder of Deeds office and Cook County Clerk’s office. Exactly 63 percent of voters checking in on the issue said the recorder’s duties should be moved to the county clerk.
Former West Suburban state representative Karen Yarbrough is currently the Recorder of Deeds and former Chicago mayor David Orr is the Cook County Clerk, The Recorder’s office will remain open until 2020. That is when the ballot issue takes effect.
Yarbrough, who ran unopposed, will continue to serve as Recorder.
Since she emerged as the winner in a hotly-contested primary against incumbent Anita Alvarez, Kim Foxx’s victory in Tuesday Cook County State’s Attorney’s race came as no surprise.
Foxx, a first-time candidate with a history of county government administrative experience, walloped her Republican opponent Christopher Pfannkuche.
With a 79 percent margin, Foxx’s compelling biography of growing up in Cabrini Green housing project with a single, teenage mother, propelled her to victory in the primary, and by the general election, she was familiar to a host of voters.
Foxx said the outcome of the presidential race “was not one I was expecting. I feel that many people, myself included, feel deeply wounded because the rhetoric of the Republican candidate during the campaign.” She noted his repeated mentions of Chicago’s current violence was something Trump harped on and Chicagoans resented the only mentions about the city were associated with violence.
She added she is hopeful that the candidate “will conduct himself differently as president.” Despite her overwhelming victory against Alvarez, Foxx reiterated a campaign theme that she didn’t take anything for granted. “One surprise I didn’t want was to not be elected,” Foxx chuckled.
She attributed the huge turnout of more than one million voters to the fact “people here—even though we were not a battleground state—knew what was at stake, and they were fired up.”
Jim Allen, communications director for the Chicago Board of Elections, said all absentee and provisional ballots are counted; the total percentage could be as high as 70 percent. There are 1,570,529 registered voters in Chicago. Approximately 500,000 fewer votes were cast in the 2012 presidential election.
Ameshia Cross, manager of government affairs for Noble Charter Schools opined.
“There were no big surprises locally. In Chicago, after the Laquan McDonald shooting and the questions circling a cover-up, the path was paved for Kim Foxx to be Cook County State’s Attorney, and everyone knew Susana Mendoza would take the Comptroller seat.”
Cross, the former policy analyst for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle added, “At the federal level, however, Donald Trump becoming president via a sea of misogynistic commentary, racist rhetoric and ‘othering’ multiple groups of people the results of this election were resounding.
“Trump spoke to the dark underbelly of this nation and uncovered its wounds. Hillary Clinton simply did not resonate, losing the majority of swing states that Obama won in 2008. The Obama coalition did not support her or come out in large numbers. It’s a devastating blow to American democracy to have someone who holds the ideas that Trump does leading the country and representing us in a global society. But this election has taught me something… our country is a long way from being united. Those rifts exist across parties. Our separation as a people drove Trump to victory and it will drive us into despair.”
Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown, who, like Rush, faced several skirmishes in the past year, emerged victorious Tuesday. Brown initially received the endorsement from the Cook County Democratic Party, however it was later withdrawn. Brown took her campaign to the people and defeated the party’s nominee Alderman Michele Harris and Democrat Jacob Meister.
Her next victory came with the withdrawal of a controversial resolution by Cook County Commissioner Peter N. Silvestri (9th) that sought to have the Clerk of the Circuit Court position changed from an elected position to appointed.
What undoubtedly will prove to be one of the most bizarre election stories involves a woman winning an elected as judge, although her law license is suspended and making her ineligible to serve.
Rhonda Crawford, a law clerk, remained on Tuesday’s ballot despite having her law license suspended by state bar officials because Crawford posed as judge in traffic court and apparently ruled on some cases in a Dolton courtroom.
Crawford’s defense was she was “shadowing” Circuit Judge Valerie Turner. It was Turner’s robe Crawford wore on the bench. Even though the state supreme court ruled that if elected Crawford could not serve, her name remained on the ballot for the 1st Sub-circuit post.
Former circuit judge, Maryam Ahmad, mounted a write-in campaign against Crawford. Ahmad lost her bid for re-election in another sub-circuit.