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Published on April 02, 2024
Eileen O'Neill Burke Secures Narrow Victory in Cook County State's Attorney PrimarySource: justiceforcookcounty.com

After a suspenseful bout of ballot counting that lasted 10 tense days, it's official: Eileen O'Neill Burke narrowly edged out Clayton Harris III in a Democratic primary cliffhanger for Cook County state's attorney, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times. Winning by a mere 0.3 percentage points—approximately 1,500 votes—O'Neill Burke is poised to take on the Republican contender, Bob Fioretti, in the upcoming November showdown.

Underpinning this close call was a lopsided precinct victory distribution—with O'Neill Burke and Harris dominating certain areas by large margins; the margin of victory was at least 20 percentage points in over 71% of the county's precincts, as per a Chicago Sun-Times analysis. Despite a strong showing from Black voters who overwhelmingly backed Harris, low turnout in those precincts failed to deliver Harris the numbers he needed, in stark contrast to historic voter participation in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic primaries.

O'Neill Burke, former appellate justice, steps into the spotlight with a mix of endorsement dynamics; she has recently gained the support of county Democratic Party chairs like Toni Preckwinkle, who had previously endorsed her primary opponent, according to the Chicago Tribune. However, it's with a nod to the city's political undercurrents that O'Neill Burke counts both opposition and support from varied figures such as Chicago police union boss John Catanzara, known for his Trump-oriented views.

O'Neill Burke's campaign must now navigate the complexities of her new support base while countering attacks from opponent Fioretti, who's already branding her as a "machine" candidate and taking swings at her ambiguous stance on the SAFE-T Act, a central issue in the November race. Despite the challenges, O'Neill Burke remains adamant about delivering on public safety promises, saying, "I spoke to people all over the county, all over the city, and what unites us is more than what divides us," echoing her dedication to a safer Cook County, she told reporters in a statement.

Amidst the aftermath of a grueling primary, O'Neill Burke reaffirmed the integrity of the electoral process against any suggestions of impropriety, though the police union's president had previously stoked concerns about "something shady going on," his accusations were firmly put to rest by the official count—solidifying O'Neill Burke's razor-thin victory and capping off a race that proved every vote does indeed count, she shared these sentiments in statements to the press as captured by the Chicago Tribune.