February 8, 2023

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx may not seek a third term in 2024, according to some Democratic Party sources.

If that does happen, voters will finally have a chance to get it right. She won’t be on the ballot.

“She’s had enough,” one Democratic politician told me. “She is the scapegoat for rising crime. She wants to get out now, join a big law firm and make money.”

Democratic countywide pre-slating is set for June 15 to 16 and slating for Aug. 14 to 15, and the 2024 primary for March 19. Petitions go out after Labor Day. So the window is fast closing for those who want Foxx’s $198,940-a year job.

Foxx, age 50, is adored by those on the far Left for championing restorative justice policies and despised by those on the far Right as a soft-on-crime, anti-police zealot.

She adheres to the notion that decriminalizing (or not prosecuting) misdemeanors, reducing felonies to petty crimes, eliminating cash bail and rapidly emptying jails is the future of the criminal justice system.

In short, don’t punish, incarcerate and assign a probation officer. Instead it’s quick-release, counseling and assign a social worker. I think they call it “treatment  not trauma.”

Foxx lives in south suburban Flossmoor, so running for a Chicago office such as mayor is moot.  But a brutal 2024 re-election looms, Foxx’s base among White liberals has evaporated and among White conservatives non-existent, and her Black base is crumbling. A tipoff to her 2024 intentions is her fund-raising.

According to D-2 disclosure reports, Foxx raised $20 (that’s twenty) in the 2022 4th quarter and had cash-on-hand of $24,618 as of Dec. 31. Clearly, she is not laying the groundwork for another run.

To be sure, billionaire George Soros can instantly dump $1 to 2 million into a Foxx campaign, as he and his ilk did in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York where all those restorative justice types reign. But Foxx is beyond rehab. Her image is indelible. No amount of money can re-invent her in the next 13 months. To many, Kim Foxx has become politically toxic.

Foxx’s vote base is withering. Her 2016 anti-Alvarez vote of 645,738 dropped to 447,974 in 2020, when she got 51 percent in the 3-way race. In the 2020 election she beat ex-judge Pat O’Brien (R) 1,185,299-861,114, getting 58 percent but losing the suburbs by 37,577 votes. By comparison, Biden beat Trump 1,725,973-544,270, so Foxx ran 540,674 votes behind Biden and O’Brien 316,844 ahead of Trump.

Already laying the groundwork is Oak Park ex-county commissioner Richard Boykin, who is Willie Wilson’s campaign manager. Wilson will get at least 70,000 votes for mayor and finish first in the Black wards, getting 50-55 percent, and a solid 12-15 percent citywide. Wilson’s base is among older churchgoers, and he is a multi-millionaire. Boykin hopes he can tap that base and tap into Wilson’s money in 2024.

Already having laid the groundwork is Bill Conway, who got 276,291 votes, or 32 percent in the 2020 primary. Conway’s multi-millionaire father bankrolled that race. Conway’s game plan was to run for alderman (2023), create a record, and then run for mayor (2027) or state’s attorney (2028). Now he’s boxed-in. He will win in the 34th Ward on Feb. 28 and take office in May. Does he announce for Foxx’s job in June? Voters will not appreciate such crass opportunism.

Another factor in Foxx’s decision-making was her mishandling of the Jussie Smollett hate-crime hoax prosecution and dismissal of R. Kelly’s sex abuse charges. Those would be rehashed in 2024.

The state’s attorney’s (CCSA) job is to prosecute criminals, but in the past it was also to root-out official corruption. That latter role has now devolved on the U.S. Attorney. Chicago mayors in the olden days wanted a CCSA who had their back, not one who stabbed it. Nowadays they just want a CCSA who fights street crime and not the “root causes” – and make the city livable and them re-electable.

1956: Richard J. Daley beat incumbent Martin Kennelly and Ben Adamowski for mayor in the 1955 primary (D). Adamowski then switched parties and was elected CCSA in 1956, and began poking around in City Hall, laying the groundwork for mayor in 1963. Daley had to get rid of him. And his “Machine” narrowly beat him in 1960.

1972: Daley got Ed Hanrahan appointed U.S. Attorney in 1965 and slated him for CCSA in 1968. He was on track to be mayor. But a Dec. 9, 1969 raid by CPD attached to CCSA killed 2 Black Panthers. Hanrahan was later indicted for conspiracy and obstruction of justice, but acquitted. His reputation smoked, Hanrahan was dumped, won the primary but lost to Bernard Carey (R).

1980: This was “Round One” of the 1983 mayor’s race. Rich Daley was then a state senator and needed to better-position himself to take out Jane Byrne. So Daley ran for CCSA, Byrne backed Ed Burke, but Daley got 63 percent, going on to beat Carey by 21,851 votes. Both Byrne and Daley lost in 1983 but Daley was ready in 1989.

2016: Anita Alvarez was chief deputy CCSA in 1998 when she beat alderman Tom Allen (38th) by 9,974 votes. Allen was betrayed by Southwest Side White committeemen. But then along came Laquan McDonald’s Oct. 20, 2014 murder, and Alvarez’s role in delaying prosecution until after Rahm Emanuel won in 2015. Alvarez got just 32 percent against Foxx in the primary (D).

Foxx is likely getting out before she’s thrown out.

MAYORAL UPDATE: Chicago voters desperately want to get it right in 2023, and that means getting rid of Lori Lightfoot. But there is palpable lassitude. There are too many non-Lightfoot choices, so voters are awaiting the runoff, when they won’t have to make a choice and can vote against whoever opposes Lightfoot.

Polling dating back to mid-2022 has consistently indicated that about 75 percent of likely voters oppose another term for the mayor. Lightfoot has tried to re-invent herself, with media ads showing contrition, claiming she was on a tough learning curve, palming off her problems on COVID and blaming Foxx for the crime problem.  She even smiled, asking voters for a second chance to get it right. She also emphasized her family’s racial roots. All to no avail.

The top 5 Feb. 28 finishers will be Paul Vallas/Chuy Garcia/Lightfoot/Wilson/Brandon Johnson, probably in that order, each with a shot at 20 percent. Vallas has locked-in most of the 30 percent of the White vote that opted for the four White guys in 2019, with Woke/Leftist Johnson cutting into the Leftist White base, especially along the north Lakefront.

Vallas is getting 8-10 percent in Black wards and running well among Latinos, pulling in 20-25 percent, which means Garcia will get 55-60 percent of his base, not the 80-plus he anticipated and needs.

Garcia epitomizes the saying that in a campaign “the first day is the best day – and then it all goes downhill.” Look at Hillary Clinton in 2008 and 2016, and Bill Daley in 2019. Garcia’s strategists smugly figured that he would be the INSTANT anti-Lightfoot candidate, that he would easily get 25-30 percent and that grateful Chicagoans would thank him for running.

They’re not.

Recent polls show him sinking, pegging him in the upper-teens, down from 25 percent last November. Many don’t buy what he’s peddling anymore.

The reason is that Garcia dawdled until just recently. He should have been defining himself as a “reformer” with a deluge of TV ads, and as the agent of “change.” Now he’s up with hybrid ads claiming he’s the “progressive” alternative but will fight crime with more police. That neither motivates nor satisfies.

Vallas was in the race last summer and was up early with TV ads promising to fix Chicago. His goal was to raise $10 million. He has the credentials and is the only White candidate. .

Expect a Vallas-Garcia runoff. And it will be really nasty.

Read more Analysis & Opinion from Russ Stewart at Russstewart.com

This column was published in Nadig Newspapers. If you, a friend or a colleague wish to be added to Russ's BUDDY LIST, and be emailed his column every Wednesday morning, email webmaster Joe Czech at Joe@Nadignewspapers.com