By Erick Johnson, Chicago Crusader
Recent issues affecting the Black community increased turnout in Tuesday’s primary elections, where voters decided the outcome on several hot races for local, state and federal offices.
The day included last minute campaigning in the Black community, where candidates pulled out all the stops, hoping it would make a difference in tight races.
Exit polls show voter turnout was 150 percent higher than 2014. While presidential elections historically generate higher voter turnout, there was concern that participation would be lower in the Black community than when Barack Obama ran for president in 2008 and 2012.
At one precinct at the Chicago Public Library branch in South Shore, one security guard said she was “very impressed” with this year’s turnout than the one in 2014.
“I was very disappointed then, but it’s been a constant flow of people all day.”
Near a precinct at the Liberty Baptist Church in Bronzeville, campaign workers for several candidates held up political placards as drivers went by on Martin Luther King Drive. Many of the workers were from Juliana Stratton’s campaign office. Throughout the South Side, her workers far outnumbered those of her opponent, incumbent Ken Dunkin, State Representative for the 5th District.
In the end, voters overwhelmingly picked Stratton. Other winners include Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton, Cook County State’s Attorney candidate Kim Foxx and Clerk for Circuit Court of Cook County Dorothy Brown. Veteran Congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny K. Davis won their races. Congresswoman Robin Kelly was also reelected.
In one of the most expensive campaigns in Illinois history, challenger Juliana Stratton defeated 14-year veteran Ken Dunkin for State Representative for the 5th District.
All of the winners will face their Republican opponent in the General Election on November 8. Clinton will face billionaire Donald Trump, whose rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) was cancelled after thousands of protestors crashed his event before he could speak.
In November, Dorothy Brown, who routed challenger and Alderman Michelle Harris for Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, will now face Republican challenger Diane S. Shapiro. Stratton wins the position outright since no Republican ran to oppose her.
Andrea Zopp lost her bid for the U.S. Senate after she was defeated by Congresswoman and Iraqi War veteran Tammy Duckworth. In a rematch of their 2014 race, challenger Jay Travis lost in a tight race to State Representative Christian Mitchell in the 26 District.
For the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, Barbara McGowan was reelected to another 6-year term along with Mariyana T. Spyropoulos and Josina Morita.
The higher voter turnout may be attributed to voter anger and controversial issues that have angered the Black community in recent years.
The race between Foxx and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez centered on the case involving Chicago police officer who killed 17-year old Laquan McDonald. After watching the video, protests were held throughout the city and Black leaders organized numerous registration drives to boost voter turnout.