After five months of protests sparked by her handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting case, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez lost every predominantly black ward in Chicago in Tuesday’s primary defeat at the hands of Kim Foxx.
Foxx, an African-American woman and former top aide to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, crushed the two-term incumbent Alvarez by a nearly 3-1 ratio in the city, winning 62 percent of the vote in a three-way Democratic race that also included former state and federal prosecutor Donna More.
City-wide, Alvarez won only 13 wards, and polled above 50 percent in only six of those.
Foxx won the other 37 wards, and rolled up margins of better than 80 percent in 13 wards where African-American voters comprised more than 70 percent of the population. Of the 13 wards Alvarez won, 10 have a plurality of Hispanic voters.
Election tallies for Cook County precincts outside the city would not be available until late Wednesday, according to Clerk David Orr’s office.
In the weeks after release of a video of McDonald being gunned down by a white police officer, Preckwinkle steered party leaders to endorse Foxx, her former chief of staff. In January, county Democrats voted to slate Foxx.
The isolation surely hurt Alvarez, but the election was truly a referendum on the McDonald shooting, said former Ald. Dick Simpson, now a political science professor at University of Illinois-Chicago.
“The endorsements, all that weighed against her, but the results for Alvarez were also a vote against Rahm Emanuel and the police department and the larger issue of criminal justice,” said Simpson who supported rival mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia last year.
Alvarez announced murder charges against Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke in November, the same day the city released video of Van Dyke pumping 16 shots into the 17-year-old McDonald in 2014. The year-plus delay in filing the charges looked to protestors like a coverup, though Alvarez claimed she delayed acting against Van Dyke because of an ongoing probe by federal prosecutors. Alvarez and Emanuel became the primary targets of protestors, who called for both to resign. The hashtag #ByeAnita became a slogan for protesters this spring.
Demonstrators also criticized Alvarez for mishandling the prosecution of Chicago Police officer Dante Servin. A judge acquitted Servin in 2013, on charges in the shooting death of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd. Prosecutors charged that Boyd was killed when Servin blindly sprayed shots at her and a group of people the police officer claimed charged his car in an alley behind his home.
Alvarez was not deserted by all members of her party on Tuesday. She notched her best performances in the 13th Ward, controlled by House Speaker Michael Madigan, and the 14th Ward turf of Ald. Ed Burke. The 23rd Ward, which sits between the 13th and 14th, also gave Alvarez around 60 percent of their votes.
Alvarez wasn’t the lone prosecutor Tuesday to feel the wrath of an electorate outraged by a high-profile, racially charged police shooting. Timothy McGinty, district attorney in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, also was trounced in his re-election bid. McGinty had recommended a grand jury not bring charges against police officers who shot Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was gunned down outside a Cleveland recreation center.