Candidates for Cook County State's Attorney take aim at Kim Foxx over Jussie Smollett case; incumbent calls it a 'distraction'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Candidates for Cook County State's Attorney brought the Jussie Smollett case to the forefront in a recent debate, but incumbent Kim Foxx is calling it a distraction.

Questions over how much the case will matter to voters remain, and Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's opponents seem to think it will.

"I want to be clear, this race is not about one case," Foxx said.

Foxx was on the defensive in the WGN Democratic debate.

Candidate Bill Conway referenced her handling of the case involving the former "Empire" actor who allegedly lied to police about a racist and homophobic attack last year.

"You can't have a situation where politically connected people get better deals," Conway said.

RELATED: Kim Foxx says Jussie Smollett case shouldn't define her record as Cook County State's Attorney
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Kim Foxx sat down with ABC7's Craig Wall for her first sit-down interview since a special prosecutor re-filed charges against actor Jussie Smollett.

Bob Fioretti and Donna More attacked Foxx on violent crime and low-level offenses, such as shoplifting.

"I think we need to start charging offensers who break the law and don't downgrade those charges," Fioretti said.

More said, "It's not fear-mongering. Go into the community, talk to the retailers, talk to the security folks that are in the stores. They will tell you what is happening, there is no charging."

Foxx defended her track record.

"I also want to push back against the narrative that we are not still holding people accountable," Foxx said. "The reality is, those people are still being charged with misdemeanors."

The WGN debate took place Friday, but aired Sunday night.

Foxx's Democratic opponents continue to shift the discussion back to Jussie Smollett, who is scheduled to be in court Monday, saying it highlights a larger issue.

"The current state's attorney has repeatedly not told the truth to the public about this," Conway said.

Meanwhile, Fioretti said the case destroyed Foxx's integrity.

"When you blow a big case, nobody trusts you to do the right thing on any case," More added.

But Foxx called it a distraction.

"When I talked to people in communities who have been impacted by violence, I will tell you, they're incredibly frustrated that we're not talking about homicide clearance rates."

The Cook County State's Attorney candidates will face off this week in two debates presented by ABC7, the League of Women Voters of Cook County and Univision Chicago.

The Republicans will go first on Thursday, February 27 at 7 p.m., followed by the Democrats the next night.
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