Cook County State's Attorney Republican candidates meet for ABC7 debate, attack Kim Foxx

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Republican candidates for Cook County State's Attorney faced off in a debate presented by ABC 7 Thursday night.

Pat O'Brien is a former judge and assistant Cook County state's attorney. Christopher Pfannkuche is also a former assistant Cook County state's attorney. Both took frequent shots at current Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx during the debate.

First, for her handling of the Jussie Smollett case.

"Kim Foxx handled this case very poorly and that is because she has no experience in the trial courts," said Pfannkuche. "Her incompetence and inexperience showed through."

"The way she handled it she broke the public trust," O'Brien said. "It is not something that you can then regain. The only way to restore it is to replace Kim Foxx."

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They also attacked Foxx for not pursuing corruption prosecutions, and blamed her for a rise in retail thefts by raising the threshold for felony charges.

"That empowers the criminals out there to go ahead and commit additional retail thefts," Pfannkuche said.

"This is just lawlessness and it's silly and it should stop," said O'Brien.

The Republicans also traded barbs with one another.

"How do you account for the fact that I've got over 90 endorsements?" Pfannkuche asked. "You have not been endorsed by the Cook County Republican Party."

"I'm a prosecutor not a politician, I haven't spent five years running for an office," O'Brien answered.

"But the problem is he hasn't prosecuted a single case in 27 years and he's simply out of touch," Pfannkuche pressed.

"I've heard a lot about being in the office 31 years, and it takes a great deal of, I suppose diligence, to avoid being promoted to supervisor," O'Brien retorted.

While the two Republicans are running against one another in the March 17 primary it was clear their biggest appeal is based on running against Kim Foxx's record.


PART 1: Candidates weigh in on handling of Jussie Smollett case
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Republican candidates considered how they might have handled the Jussie Smollett case and follow-up differently as Cook County State's Attorney during a debate Thursday.

PART 2: Candidates discuss bail reform, nonviolent offenders
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Republican candidates for Cook County State's Attorney weigh in on bail reform measures, such as whether to eliminate cash bail for certain crimes and how to address nonviolent off

PART 3: GOP candidates on prosecution strategies, wrongful convictions

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Republican candidates discuss priorities, prosecution thresholds, wrongful convictions and what programs they might implement as Cook County State's Attorney.

PART 4: Candidates are given opportunity to ask each other a question
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Republican candidates Pat O'Brien and Christopher Pfannkuche are given the opportunity to ask each other questions.

PART 5: Candidates discuss political corruption, Rod Blagojevich
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The candidates weigh in on political corruption and former governor Rod Blagojevich.

PART 6: Candidates on gun crime, mental health and youth crime
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The candidates discuss some of the State's Attorney's most sensitive and pressing issues: prosecuting gun crime, mental health cases, and when to prosecute a teenager as an adult.

PART 7: Candidates give their closing arguments
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The ABC7 Cook County State's Attorney's Republican debate wraps up with closing arguments from the candidates.

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