Democratic Cook County state's attorney candidates fight for votes after trading accusations

Tuesday, March 19, 2024
Cook Co. state's atty. candidates fight for votes amid mudslinging
Democrats Clayton Harris and Eileen O'Neill Burke are fighting for votes in the race for Cook County state's attorney ahead of Illinois Election Day.

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Every vote is likely to count in what is expected to be a tight primary race between Clayton Harris III and Eileen O'Neill Burke.

Cook County state's attorney candidate Harris was out and about on Monday, meeting voters.

In a campaign stroll through Hyde Park on Monday, Harris tried to shake as many hands as he could, encouraging people to go to the polls.

"I think that this is going to be a low voter turnout, and that's not good. That's not good. We were encouraging folks not to wait until November," Harris said.

His opponent, O'Neill Burke, ran out the clock on early voting greeting people outside a Lincoln Park polling place after being sidelined most of the day with a bout of laryngitis.

Ahead of Illinois Election Day, candidates and organizers have been trying to get more voters to the polls.

"I've seen the justice system from every single side. I know how to fix it. What we're doing right now is not working. We can fix it," O'Neill Burke said.

As Harris and O'Neill Burke fight for every vote, the campaign between the two has become a nasty fight with both accusing each other of lying about their records.

SEE ALSO | Here's how low voter turnout could impact Illinois primary election results

"Clayton Harris is a political insider. He is an anti-union corporate lobbyist," one O'Neill Burke campaign ad says.

"I can deal with the differences on policies or differences in opinions. I take issue with the lies, saying anti-abortion when I'm not or anti-union when I'm not," Harris said.

But the mudslinging goes both ways.

Harris has repeatedly attacked O'Neill Burke's handling of a case 30 years ago, when she prosecuted an 11-year-old boy for murder. His conviction was later overturned when a judge ruled his confession was coerced by police.

"We can't go back to the days of wrongful convictions because Eileen Burke thinks Black boys are guilty of something. Vote Clayton Harris," Harris said.

The O'Neill Burke campaign blasted Harris for invoking race into the campaign. Harris is backed by Toni Preckwinkle and the Cook County Democratic Party, an endorsement O'Neill Burke sought as well.

In addition, Harris has been endorsed by current State's Attorney Kim Foxx.

"If you are happy with the way things are, then vote for my opponent, because he hasn't been in a courtroom in 20 years and wants to keep everything the same, but if you want a fair and effective prosecutor's office, I'm the candidate you want," O'Neill Burke said.

Whoever wins Tuesday's Democratic primary for state's attorney will face Republican Bob Fioretti and Libertarian Andrew Charles Kopinski in November.

SEE ALSO | 2024 primary elections: Voter information in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin