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Republican Pat O’Brien cutting into Democratic State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s lead, GOP poll finds

Foxx was leading O’Brien, 48.1% to 33.8%, with 18.1% undecided. County GOP Chairman Sean Morrison said the poll shows “a real opportunity to upset Chicago’s corrupt political machine.” But Foxx’s campaign said “voters are smart and will see through [O’Brien’s] dangerous rhetoric.”

Republican nominee Pat O’Brien, left, in July; Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, right, in March.
Republican nominee Pat O’Brien, left, speaks during a “Defend the Police” rally in July; Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, right, speaks to reporters after winning in the Democratic primary in March.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times-file; Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has a double-digit lead over Republican Pat O’Brien, but the GOP challenger is gaining ground on the Democratic incumbent, according to a poll commissioned by Republicans.

Foxx was leading the former Cook County judge, 48.1% to 33.8%, in the survey with 18.1% undecided. The Ogden and Fry poll of 447 likely voters was conducted Sept. 5. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

An earlier poll, conducted on Aug. 3, found Foxx with an even more dominant lead over O’Brien — 65.7% to 22%.

The latest poll was commissioned by the Cook County Republican Party.

County GOP Chairman Sean Morrison said in a statement the poll numbers illustrate “law-abiding residents from across Cook County have had enough of the rioting, looting, violent crime, murdered children and general lawlessness that has raged on across the city of Chicago and Cook County under the disastrous policies of Kim Foxx.”

“The poll shows that Judge O’Brien has a real opportunity to upset Chicago’s corrupt political machine led by Toni Preckwinkle and Kim Foxx,” Morrison’s statement continued. “Voters are looking for a candidate that will help restore law and order and bring a renewed level of professional integrity to the office of State’s Attorney. Pat O’Brien is that candidate.”

Pat O’Brien speaks during a “Defend the Police” rally in Grant Park in July.
Pat O’Brien, who is running for Cook County state’s attorney, speaks during a “Defend the Police” rally in Grant Park in July.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Foxx is a former chief of staff to Preckwinkle, Cook County Board president and chair of the county Democratic Party.

O’Brien is a former assistant state’s attorney and Circuit Court judge. He was elected judge as a Democrat, but switched to the GOP to take on Foxx.

Among those polled, 27.2% were Black, 44.1% were white, 9.4% were Latino or Hispanic, 7.1% identified as other and 12.3% preferred not to say which race they most closely identify with.

Ogden and Fry was owned by Tom Swiss, a former director of the Cook County Republican Party who ran as a Democrat against former state Rep. Derrick Smith in 2012. Swiss sold the company earlier this year, a spokesman said. The vast majority of the firm’s business comes from Republican candidates, with a fair amount from political action committees and non-for profits.

A spokeswoman for Foxx said O’Brien’s numbers will worsen in the weeks ahead.

“The more voters learn about the stark differences between our Republican opponent and the State’s Attorney, will widen this margin even further,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. “He continues to use ‘Trump like’ fear tactics and has at least 27 wrongful convictions under his watch. Cook County voters are smart and will see through his dangerous rhetoric.”

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks at a news conference in August about the city’s plan to protect Chicago’s commercial corridors, following looting.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks at a news conference in August about the city’s plan to protect Chicago’s commercial corridors, following looting.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Since the early August poll was conducted, a special prosecutor released his report finding “substantial abuses of discretion” in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s handling of former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s case.

Lawyer Dan Webb’s findings basically ensured the first-term prosecutor would be answering questions about the matter right up until the November election.

Webb announced he’d concluded his investigation into Foxx’s office’s handling of the Smollett case in August, finding that Foxx and her office made several false and misleading statements, but also concluding that there was no evidence that would support criminal charges for the Democratic incumbent.

That hasn’t stopped O’Brien and Republicans from dinging Foxx on her handling of that case, as well as her record in the office — a tenure that O’Brien said has “made us less safe.”

Foxx previously called the yearlong obsession with the Smollett case “BS.”

Foxx evaded three opponents in the March primary, securing a little over 50% of the vote to move on to the November general election.