CHICAGO — Kim Foxx has held onto her post as Cook County state’s attorney.
Foxx, the incumbent and a Chicago native, won the Democratic nomination handily with 56 percent of the vote — more than double that of the closest challenger, Bill Conway.
Foxx’s other two challengers — Bob Fioretti and Donna More — trailed even further. She’ll face Republican Patrick O’Brien, who won the Republican nomination, in November.
In declaring victory Tuesday night, Foxx emphasized her focus on the bail and criminal justice reform work she’s done. Foxx has pushed for progressive policies that focus on detaining fewer people and prosecuting violent crimes rather than low-level offenses, among other things.
“Tonight, the voters have once again spoken and are calling us to continue our mandate of criminal justice reform. They’re calling us to continue to make Cook County a model for this country,” Foxx said in her victory speech. “I pledge to keep pushing for that change that is fair, that is just, that is equitable, while keeping our communities safe.”
But there’s still work to be done in Cook County, Foxx said.
“We must address the public health crisis of substance use disorder that has claimed more lives in Cook County than gun violence,” Foxx said. “We must meaningfully address the intersection of mental health and criminal justice. We have far too many people struggling with mental health and far too [few] resources to help them. We must continue to address the epidemic of violence in our communities by acknowledging trauma and its role in that violence.
“We must continue to lead the charge toward a justice system that is fair and just and equitable for all.”
Though lauded by some for her reforms, critics of Foxx said she was too soft on crime — and her first term was overshadowed by the Jussie Smollett scandal when her office dropped charges against the “Empire” actor in a highly publicized case.
Police said Smollett fabricated a hate crime to gain attention and get a pay raise on “Empire.” The actor told police that, while walking in Steeterville in January 2019, two men yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, beat him, put a noose around his neck and threw liquid on him.
But within weeks police said the account was untrue and charged Smollett with filing a false police report.
Foxx recused herself from the case, but shortly afterward her office dropped charges against Smollett. The office said it was doing so because Smollett had volunteered “in the community” and would give $10,000 to the city by forfeiting his bond.
Foxx’s opponents brought up the case — and the heat Foxx received over the handling of it — repeatedly during their campaigning.
But the same activists who helped Foxx oust Anita Alvarez from the State’s Attorney’s Office in 2016 stood by her side and pushed for her re-election, pointing to her work on criminal justice and bail reform.
“There was an effort to make this election about one big case involving a celebrity,” Foxx said. “The voters have overwhelming put that fallacy to rest. The truth is: Our office handles urgent cases every day, many that go unreported.”
And Foxx racked up endorsements from big names like Gov. JB Pritzker, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Foxx’s biggest challenger was Conway, who received millions of dollars in donations to his campaign by his father. But Conway received just 27.6 percent of the vote, while More picked up 11.5 percent and Fioretti 4.8 percent.
Foxx alluded to Conway’s funding — $10.5 million just from his father, while Foxx raised about $4 million total — during her victory speech, saying her campaign had fought a “battle against dollars that were being poured into this.”
But Foxx said she’s spent time speaking with the people of Cook County and trying to get them justice, and she wants to continue doing that into her next term.
“Over the last four years, I have heard these testimonies and created policies that address those who are most deeply impacted,” Foxx said. “I want to make Cook County an even more inclusive and thriving community, where everyone is welcome.”