Feud network? Former rivals Lightfoot and Preckwinkle join forces for Foxx
The three elected officials joined labor leaders for a get-out-the-vote rally at a West Loop union headquarters. But the political pep rally suggested the two former mayoral rivals are not yet BFFs.
Former adversaries Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle teamed up Friday, burying the hatchet to stump for embattled Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx 18 days before the March primary.
The three elected officials joined labor leaders and others for a get-out-the-vote rally at a West Loop union headquarters.
But the political pep rally suggested the two former mayoral rivals are not yet BFFs.
When Preckwinkle took to the podium, she took a moment to name all the elected officials in the room — even asking any she missed to raise their hands.
The Hyde Park Democrat made no mention of Lightfoot, who clobbered Preckwinkle in last year’s mayor race.
Such hiccups aside, the two focused on painting Foxx as the only candidate to reform the county’s criminal justice system. Preckwinkle described her protégé as a “forceful leader” on the county’s criminal justice reform efforts.
The County Board president touted the first-term prosecutor’s focus on violent crime, on “the shooters and the killers because that’s where our resources ought to go” while acknowledging the “errors of the past” through exonerating wrongful convictions.
“And those who want to go backward, who are not happy that there are fewer black and brown people in our jail, have attacked her from the right,” Preckwinkle said. “Every single candidate who opposes her is opposing her from the right. We have to understand that.”
Lightfoot made the case for Foxx, lauding her as a prosecutor who has struck a balance between going after those “causing the harm” and those who get caught up in the criminal justice system who may not need to be there.
“What’s important in the system, and what we have right now in Kim Foxx, is a prosecutor who understands the lived experience of people, a prosecutor who has heart,” Lightfoot said. “Kim Foxx is exactly the kind of leader we need in this county, at this time in our history and the work is not done.”
Those attending the rally also included labor leaders from the Chicago Teachers Union and the Service Employees International Union, which has an ownership stake in Sun-Times Media.
The Friday rally at Painters District Council #14 headquarters offered Foxx a chance to try to set the record straight.
“There has been a lot of rhetoric in the last several months about who I am and what I stand for,” Foxx said. “I stand unapologetically as a child of Cabrini … I don’t mention that for any sense of bravery for myself, there are too many children living in neighborhoods today in which they are seeking shelter in bath tubs … and yet our criminal justice system has not been focused on them.”
That “rhetoric” has largely stemmed from Foxx’s handling of the case of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.
Smollett was accused of making a false report to Chicago police and was indicted in March on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying about being attacked in a hate crime. Weeks later, the state’s attorney’s office abruptly dropped the charges, sparking outrage as well as confusion.
Special prosecutor Dan Webb indicted Smollett earlier this month, accusing him of faking the 2019 hate crime attack.
Foxx faces former prosecutor Bill Conway, former Ald. Bob Fioretti and former prosecutor, and 2016 state’s attorney candidate, Donna More in the Democratic primary on March 17.Two Republicans — former judge Pat O’Brien and Christopher, a former assistant state’s attorney who lost to Foxx in 2016 — are also vying for the chance to unseat Foxx in November.
A poll released Monday by the Conway campaign shows Foxx at 28%, just two percent ahead of Conway, who was at 26% in the poll.
The challengers have all made the race a referendum on Foxx’s handling of the Smollett case, casting it as a blow to the integrity of the office.
Foxx said her time in the office has been about public safety — creating a “first of its kind” gun crime strategies unit and shifting resources from crimes such as shoplifting to violent crimes, leading to a reduction in violent crime.
She said “we have focused our attention on one case, we’ll talk about this case and talk about this case,” alluding to the Smollett case, and saying her office is much more than that.
Foxx pitched herself as appealing to people “who have been touched by this justice system who have been touched by loss in our community, who know that as a city we have much work to do and would love for us, and all of us, to work collectively to make sure we’re keeping our community safe and that we’re not distracted by that which is shiny today but getting to the dirty and the gritty and the grimy which is crime and violence in our communities and making sure that we’ve got all hands on deck to do that.”