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Candidates swarm city, county in final push before primary

State's Attorney Anita Alvarez speaks at Ann Sather Restaurant with Chicago Aldermen James Cappleman (46th)(left) and Tom Tunney (44th). | Tina Sfondeles/Sun-Times

From St. Patrick’s Day parades to churches throughout Chicago, candidates in hotly contested races were out in full force on Sunday in a final push to get out the vote.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez started a day of campaigning at Ann Sather Restaurant on the North Side alongside the popular brunch spot’s owner, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), as well as Ald. James Cappleman (46th).

Both North Side aldermen announced their endorsements of Alvarez, who faces a contentious race against Kim Foxx, former chief of staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and Donna More, a former federal and county prosecutor.

“We’re down to the home stretch here,” Alvarez said. “Two more days, and I’m feeling strong.” The campaign has been “pretty hectic,” she said.

Both Foxx and More have focused on Alvarez’s handling of the Laquan McDonald murder and other cases involving police misconduct. But on Sunday, Alvarez said the McDonald investigation isn’t the only thing on voters’ minds.

“As I’m going around this very large county, constituents are asking about other things, and I’ve been focusing on public safety and what we can do to make sure we keep our streets safe,” Alvarez said.

Foxx visited six churches on Sunday in Bronzeville, Pullman and Roseland.

GalleryAt the West Point Missionary Baptist Church in Bronzeville, Foxx told churchgoers that the county’s criminal justice system is broken and Alvarez “has long passed her due date.”

She reminded the audience about high-profile police-involved shootings, which have been a focal point of her campaign.

“If your heart aches for what happened to Laquan or to Rekia. If your heart aches about what’s happening with the violence in our communities, turn that heartache into action,” Foxx said to cheers. “Let’s show up on Tuesday and remember Kim Foxx.”

Foxx told reporters that voter turnout will be critical for her campaign.

“This is going to be a race that is going to be tight,” Foxx said. “It’s hard to say how it’s going to turn out but what people need to know is that everybody who is eligible to vote should show up and cast their ballot. We need turnout to be high.”

Kim Foxx, a Cook County state’s attorney candidate, spoke at West Point Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday. | Tina Sfondeles/Sun-Times
Kim Foxx, a Cook County state’s attorney candidate, spoke at West Point Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday. | Tina Sfondeles/Sun-Times

More marched in the South Side Irish Parade for several hours on Sunday. She plans to campaign in Chicago, Northbrook, Glenview and her hometown of Evanston in the final two days.

More has painted herself as the independent campaign for state’s attorney, although Alvarez has claimed the same moniker in a televised ad.

“Contrary to what my opponents like to say, I am attached to the Democratic Party, but I’m not attached to the power brokers in the party,” More said. “They both take their direction from one or the other Machine leader. And as we’ve seen under Ms. Alvarez, that leads to very bad prosecutorial decisions.”

Earlier, More visited the Triedstone Full Gospel Baptist Church on the Far South Side.

Candidates have traditionally appeared at the South Side Irish Parade, usually held just before the primary. U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth — who’s facing a U.S. Senate primary contest against former Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp and state Rep. Napoleon Harris — took part in the parade Sunday.

Duckworth, who lost both her legs in a helicopter crash while serving as an Army pilot in Iraq, steered her motorized wheelchair in circles at the parade as supporters cheered.

The parade crowed was thinned a bit by temperatures in the low 40s and a steady drizzle that left socks soggy and soaked performing flags, making them hard to wave in sync.

“Rain? What rain? I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s a beautiful, sunny day,” Larry Kelly, 60, said tongue-in-cheek, from beneath an umbrella.

“It’s a tradition. We come every year,” Kelly said before turning his attention to his sister, Maureen Kavanaugh, who was trying to figure out which parish someone she’d spotted in the parade came from.

South Sider Jay Standring, 67, wore a fur coat made of llama and beaver that had been died green. The effect was a sort of Irish Chewbacca. “Or Chia Pet,” Standring said with a laugh.

Duckworth traveled from Peoria to Bloomington to Waukegan in the past few days in an effort to get people out to the polls.

Duckworth said she’s already looking ahead to the November general election and her likely opponent, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

“The fact of the matter is he has not been out there to represent the people of this great state. He’s not voting in their interest. He’s voted consistently for large corporations at the expense of working families and he really has not been out in the state serving the people of Illinois,” Duckworth said of Kirk.

“It’s really going to be an economic message and reach out to constituents every day,” she said. “Whether it’s on college affordability or the fact that we need to do better for working families.”

At a South Side parade gathering, Zopp said she believes early voter turnout could mean good news for her. She has been largely focusing her campaign in Chicago and the northern suburbs.

“I think people have been very responsive. As you know, the early voter turnout the last few days has been very high, particularly in the city, and that’s very good for me. We’re feeling very excited,” said Zopp, who lives in Beverly.

Zopp also was at the DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lisle on Sunday morning — where the late Sandra Bland attended church — and planned to stump in Evanston later Sunday.

“When you’re running statewide and you’re committed to touching base with voters, that’s what you got to do,” Zopp said of her wide-ranging travel plans for the final push.

“We’ve always known for us it was going to be the last week, the final 10 days that was going to be critical because of name recognition,” Zopp said. “But we’re building great momentum.”

Kirk, who faces Oswego businessman James Marter in Tuesday’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate, marched in the Northwest Side Irish Parade.

Despite not yet facing Duckworth, he said he’ll continue to speak about his opposition to her views.

“We will be looking at her proposal to bring 200,000 Syrian refugees into the United States, even though the FBI said they cannot be properly screened,” Kirk said.

And despite published reports that indicated Kirk would support presidential candidate Donald Trump if he wins the Republican seat, Kirk said Sunday he hasn’t endorsed anyone.

“I’ve stayed way out of that,” Kirk said. “And like [U.S. Sen.] Lindsey Graham says, ‘Call me in July on the Republican primaries.’”