State’s attorney race: Alvarez ally defects to Foxx

Photo at top: Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez endorses state’s attorney candidate Kim Foxx at a press conference at SEIU headquarters Tuesday (Aryn Braun/MEDILL).

By Thomas Vogel and Aryn Braun

Kim Foxx’s quest to unseat Anita Alvarez as Cook County State’s Attorney got a big boost Tuesday as U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) pledged his support.

“There’s a lot of distrust, mistrust out there,” Gutierrez said. “We need to heal that.”

Citing lack of transparency in the controversial Laquan McDonald police shooting case, Gutierrez pulled his support from Alvarez. He stressed the need to rebuild Chicagoans trust in local government and said a victorious Foxx campaign would be a first step.

The veteran legislator is the latest local pol to back Foxx. In recent weeks, the Cook County Democrats and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a Cook County commissioner and former mayoral candidate, have endorsed Foxx’s insurgent campaign.

A Chicago native, Foxx previously worked as an assistant state’s attorney and more recently, as chief of staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. This campaign, however, is her first attempt at elected office.

Despite the string of endorsements, Alvarez maintains a slim lead in the three-way race about a month before the March 15 primary election, according to a recent Tribune poll. Donna More, a former state and federal prosecutor, remains in third place, with 12 percent. 

“I’m very encouraged by the poll,” Foxx said. “We’re within striking distance, having not the same amount of name recognition that the incumbent has. So what that poll demonstrates is that she’s in trouble.”

Alvarez just released a new TV ad, lauding her own experience, calling Foxx a “typical politician” and attacking her prosecutorial record.

Foxx said she hadn’t yet seen the ad but maintained she would run a clean campaign.

“She is trying to distract from her own shameful record,” Foxx said. “Clearly it’s to not talk about the fact the she waited 400 days to deal with the fact that Laquan McDonald was murdered.”

Gutierrez also condemned Alvarez for running a negative campaign.

“I would say to Anita Alvarez, if you have something to say, tell people why they should vote for you,” Gutierrez said. “If you don’t have a reason to tell people to vote for you, it’s an indication of the failure of your administration, and one of the reasons I, and many others, have left your campaign.”

Gutierrez’s endorsement carries clout. He is one of Illinois’ longest serving congressman and represents a district that is more than 70 percent Hispanic in a county where a fourth of the population is also Hispanic.

His endorsement came on the heels of another Foxx endorsement from Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, where she has close ties. She stepped down as chairwoman of Planned Parenthood of Illinois after four years with the organization that advocates for women’s and reproductive rights.

“Any time that you elect a woman that has the background that Kim has, it also is an example to other women and the community as a whole about what women can achieve,” said Brigid Leahy, a Planned Parenthood Illinois Action spokeswoman.

Photo at top: Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez endorses state’s attorney candidate Kim Foxx at a press conference at SEIU headquarters Tuesday (Aryn Braun/MEDILL).