October 7, 2020


Politically, Kim Foxx has a lot of baggage. Her competence as Cook County state's attorney is questionable considering her track record. She won't even debate her opponent.

But she will win.

She was accused by special prosecutor Dan Webb of "substantial abuses of discretion" in the Jussie Smollett case, and of making "false or misleading" statements. She also appears to ignore the "letter of the law," having dismissed 25,193 felonies since 2017. More than 1,000 arrestees for murder, robbery or gun possession are free on electronic monitoring due to her bail bond policy and prosecuting rioters and looters is not a Foxx priority.

But that doesn't bother a whole lot of people - actually, the majority. Voters had the opportunity on March 17 to stamp "Return to Sender" on Foxx's prosecutorial package, but it was unsent. She was re-nominated with 50.3 percent in the Democratic primary. That was before the April 17 Webb report. They have another chance on Nov. 3 when she faces former judge Pat O'Brien, a Republican.

Foxx will win comfortably. Her base of African-American and White liberals will turn out, but not necessarily Hispanic voters. Smollett's attorney said Webb was "trying to take down a Black, progressive female prosecutor," which fits into Foxx's narrative that her critics are racist and sexist.

But what exactly is "progressive" prosecution? Maybe I'm old school, but the law is the law. Crime is a crime. Punishment is jail, fines or some other stigma. That's called deterrence. Where is Foxx progressing? Apparently it's from criminal justice to social justice, from in-jail to on the street treatment. She has discretion, and her politically correct ASAs (courtroom state's attorneys) can lower or dismiss felony charges, like with Smollett. Drug possession charges are regularly dismissed, even with intent to sell. Felony gun possession/armed violence is treated as a property crime, with probation but no incarceration. The U.S. Attorney has stepped in to prosecute gun cases, but does so only if Foxx refers the case to them. Even on misdemeanors like retail theft Foxx requires prosecution only if the theft is valued at more than $1,000 or the arrestee has at least 10 priors.

Arrested and convicted felons in the pre-Foxx era used to "do the time" and then go on parole. Now in the Foxx era they "do the therapy" - they get a personal recognizance I-bond and they're back on the streets, smothered under a load of social workers, crisis counselors and therapists. There is now understandably a plethora of violation of bail bonds. The police have a division that serves warrants. But in most cases the offender is at-large until picked-up on another crime, and then must post a cash bond on both charges.

Justice appears not blind under Foxx. It is calculated and calibrated to be politically advantageous, to conform to an agenda and to be palatable to her base.

According to a source in the state's attorney's felony review office, only 10 percent of murders ever go to trial, and that's because the police can't find and arrest a perpetrator. Gangbangers with guns are the problem not just the guns themselves. Jail would be good. There is a consistent exodus of "talent," meaning experienced first-chair ASAs, said the source. "The whole office is politicized."

Fraternal Order of Police union president John Catanzara contends that there is a direct link between Foxx's soft-on-crime/catch-and-release social agenda and the Chicago murder rate, which may hit 1,000 this year. There were 3,110 shooting victims and 588 murders through Sept. 30, compared to 1,999 and 392 in the same period in 2019 - a 55 percent increase. Catanzara claims Foxx's policy not to prosecute felony drug cases puts drug-dealing gang members back on the streets where they shoot rivals who invade their turf, often killing by-standers. Foxx ignores the law and defers prosecutions, Catanzara said. FOP and other unions have endorsed O'Brien.

Foxx spokesperson Alex Sims retorted that the FOP "marched with the White supremacists" who oppose Foxx, and that O'Brien as a prosecutor "wrongfully convicted three Black men." O'Brien said that is playing the race card.

As of June 30 O'Brien had $300,000 on-hand, a pittance in a countywide campaign. Bill Conway (D) spent $11,735,357 in the primary and got 31 percent. Foxx spent $3,298,603 in the primary, got 50.3 percent, and had $43,280 on-hand as of June 30.

The latest Ogden & Fry poll shows Foxx at 50-40 over O'Brien. It was 66-22 before the George Floyd protests, and 48-34 by Sept. 1. Law-and-order moved the needle. "People have had enough of rioting, looting, violent crime and murdered children," said Republican county chairman Sean Morrison. Undecided voters usually break against the incumbent, but O'Brien has to win all of them. No way. Past numbers and the expectation of a 1,100,000-plus Trump loss (as in 2016) in Cook County paint a grim picture.

It's all about the math. There are 3,099,785 registered voters in Cook County, 1,529,658 in Chicago and 1,570,127 in the suburbs. Turnout in the presidential year 2016 was 2.2 million, and Foxx beat hapless Republican Christopher Pfannkuche 1,459,087-565,671, winning Chicago 832,541-187,783 and the suburbs 626,545-377,888, getting 72 percent. In Clinton-Trump, the Democrat won 912,943-135,317 and 699,003-317,970 in those areas, and ran 152,000 votes ahead of Foxx (and Pfannkuche 112,000 votes ahead of Trump). Pfannkuche topped 20 percent in 10 wards (including 55.3 percent in the 41st Ward. The 2016 anti-Fox/Republican base was about 560,000.

In the 2016 primary Foxx beat the Laquan McDonald-tarnished incumbent Anita Alvarez 645,738-317,594, getting 58.3 percent, with Donna More amassing 144,063. The Alvarez vote was pro-police and pro-status quo. Yet in the general election it appears that most of the Alvarez voters opted for Foxx. In 2012 Alvarez was re-elected with a record 1,427,145 votes, getting 77 percent.

The 2020 Democratic primary proved that Smollett was not an anchor like McDonald. Rich Bill Conway tapped into his venture capitalist dad's fortune but ran an insipid, uninspiring campaign, criticizing Foxx only obliquely and timidly so as not to offend the Black/liberal vote, pledging glibly to attack guns and gun violence while insisting that he was a "progressive Democrat." Consultants who relied on pollsters ran his campaign. Disgusted, most of the "cop vote" went to More, who promised to be tough-on-crime. Bob Fioretti was irrelevant. Foxx won Chicago 284,955/142,176/62,333/ 26,142, and the Black wards with 80-90 percent. The countywide tally was 444,974/276,342/122,507/45,794 for Foxx/Conway/More/Fioretti.

Nevertheless, the aggregate anti-Foxx vote was 443,643. Add that to Pfannkuche's 565,671, and O'Brien goes into Nov. 3 with a theoretical voter base of 1,000,000. If 2020 turnout is 2.2 million, the contest could be close.

O'Brien has a lot to criticize. (1) Foxx publicly recused herself from decision-making in the Smollett case, where the actor staged a "hate crime" to get publicity. Foxx had been allegedly contacted by two people, including Smollett's sister, and a special prosecutor should have been named. That never happened. The police investigated, found it a hoax, and perjury and false-pleading charges were filed against Smollett. But then the recused Foxx made the decision to dismiss all charges at a status hearing, sparking a furor. She later claimed that a conviction in the case was "was not certain." In the primary, she told a radio show host that the entire criticism of her in the Smollett case was "BS." Conway later used the sound bite in his attack ads.

Anyway, back to it. The chief criminal court judge quickly then transferred the case to Judge Michael Toomin, who appointed Webb as special prosecutor. Based on his report, Smollett was re-indicted on six counts. Note that Toomin is on the retention ballot this year, and Preckwinkle's Democratic Party has not endorsed him.

(2) Foxx has set up Website to receive complaints of police misconduct, but not criminal activity. (3) And Foxx has demanded that no Democrat take FOP donations, claiming that there's "been a historic lack of oversight by public officials to investigate police wrongdoing." FOP gave $57,800 to O'Brien.

Prediction: Opinions on Foxx's record range from abominable to enlightened. Old White Guy O'Brien has no traction. Foxx will win 57-43.