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Foxx rocks as GOP rival O’Brien rides ‘into the sunset’ — incumbent wins big in state’s attorney’s race

Incomplete returns that trickled in Tuesday night showed Foxx leading Republican Pat O’Brien, a former Cook County judge, 53.3% to 40.1% with 96.1% of precincts reporting, Libertarian candidate Brian Dennehy drew 6.6% of the vote.

Flanked by family members, incumbent Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx dances as she finishes her election night headquarters speech at the Kinzie Hotel on the Near North Side after defeating Republican candidate Pat O’Brien in the general election.
Flanked by family members, incumbent Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx dances as she finishes her election night headquarters speech at the Kinzie Hotel on the Near North Side after defeating Republican candidate Pat O’Brien in the general election.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx secured a second term Tuesday night, racking up a double-digit lead and holding it all night until her Republican challenger conceded more than three hours after the polls closed.

“Tonight, voters chose safety and justice instead of law and order,” Foxx said in a statement. “They chose criminal justice reform and equity instead of wrongful convictions. They chose a way forward instead of going back.”

“The last four years have not been a cakewalk,” Foxx told a small group of reporters and relatives later. “I came in and proposed a vision for this office that believed that we had to see the people who used our systems; victims and defendants. And told the unseemly truth that sometimes our defendants were victims, and our victims defendants.”

Incomplete returns that trickled in Tuesday night showed Foxx leading Republican Pat O’Brien, a former Cook County judge, 53.7% to 39.7% with 97.9% of precincts reporting, Libertarian candidate Brian Dennehy drew 6.6% of the vote.

“Hopefully, the next four years will find us in a better position than we are now,” O’Brien told reporters in Niles. “All I can say is we gave it our best shot. I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this, but it doesn’t look like there are enough votes out there.”

“I really don’t want to answer any questions,” O’Brien told reporters. “I think I’m riding into the sunset.”

Election officials cautioned in the days leading up to Election Day that outstanding mail ballots could affect some early leads seen in numerous races across the state on Election Night.

More than 134,000 ballots had yet to be returned from voters in suburban Cook County, and upwards of 30,000 hadn’t yet come back from Chicago voters. The totals tallied from the nearly 98% of precincts that were counted represented more than 1.6 million votes.

O’Brien early in the evening repeated his campaign mantra, arguing that under Foxx, crime victims “don’t have a voice.”

“We’re going to prosecute violent crime, we’re going to make sure we deal compassionately with low-level offenders,” said O’Brien. “Because we can do both.”

Republican former Judge Pat O’Brien, challenger for the Cook County States Attorney’s Office speaks to reporters on Tuesday.
Republican former Judge Pat O’Brien, challenger for the Cook County states attorney’s office, speaks to reporters in the parking lot of the White Eagle Events & Convention Center on Tuesday.
Tyler LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times

At the White Eagle Events & Convention Center, a group of about 25 campaign volunteers and staff gathered at spread out tables, all wearing masks except when they sipped their beer, wine or cocktails.

“Eye of the Tiger,” a nod to the late Ken Malatesta, a former prosecutor in the office and mentor to O’Brien, played as O’Brien walked off the stage after briefly addressing the group to mingle with guests.

”Every trial attorney has to have a song that they play before they do closing arguments,” O’Brien said. “And for Ken, that was ‘Eye of the Tiger.’”

But as the results poured in, O’Brien was finding himself in the eye of the storm. Foxx held onto a double-digit lead over the former judge for much of the night.

Including reporters, nine people attended Foxx’s event in the Fort Dearborn Room at the Kinzie Hotel.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx poses for a photo with family members after finishing her election night headquarters speech at the Kinzie Hotel.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx poses for a photo with family members after finishing her election night headquarters speech at the Kinzie Hotel.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

There were no streamers or balloons, food or drinks at Foxx’s election night gathering.

Flanked by family, Foxx walked into the room to the song “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar. She thanked O’Brien for running a “formidable race” and her campaign staff for supporting what she called “the most amazing campaign” she could have asked for.

In an emotional moment, Foxx took a small pause as she thanked her husband for standing by her even as he battled through cancer.

“I am humbled to be your wife,” Foxx said, also saying it was “an honor” to “represent families like mine.”

“This win is about all of us — it’s about securing a fair, safe, and equitable future for our neighborhoods,” the first-term state’s attorney said in a statement. “It’s about lifting up Black and Brown communities that have been overcriminalized. It’s about protecting immigrant families. It’s about advocating for reproductive rights. This election is about creating a path forward.”

She also thanked the men who were later exonerated in the the rape and murder case of Lori Roscetti in the 1980s, saying they “represent the personification of what this race was about.” O’Brien was a prosecutor on the case.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks at her election night headquarters at the Kinzie Hotel on the Near North Side after defeating Republican candidate Pat O’Brien Tuesday night.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks at her election night headquarters at the Kinzie Hotel on the Near North Side after defeating Republican candidate Pat O’Brien Tuesday night.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Foxx fended off three Democratic challengers in March, garnering a slim 50.5% majority despite her opponents making the handling of former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s case a major issue.

O’Brien, a former Democrat, pointed to the Smollett case and Foxx’s tenure as reasons why the first-term incumbent shouldn’t be re-elected.

After Special Prosecutor Dan Webb released a report finding “substantial abuses of discretion” in the handling of the Smollett case, longtime Republicans were more optimistic about O’Brien’s chances of becoming the first Republican to win the office in nearly a quarter of a century.

But Foxx dinged O’Brien for a “history of wrongful of convictions” and a relationship with police she said prevented the former prosecutor and judge from being a “check on officers.”

And she portrayed O’Brien as the county’s closest thing to President Donald Trump and refused to debate the former judge because of what she called “Trump-like name calling and fear mongering.”

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