In less than three weeks, Illinois voters will go to the polls. Will the state have a big role in weeding out the Democratic presidential field? And how will the contentious and heavily financed race for Cook County state’s attorney shake out?
The Cook County state’s attorney race has been one of the most closely watched of the primary races. This week, actor Jussie Smollett appeared in Cook County court to plead not guilty to six charges of disorderly conduct and lying to police officers. The charges came from special prosecutor Dan Webb, who was appointed by a Cook County judge to review the case after the state’s attorney’s office dropped 16 charges against Smollett. The case has been heavy fodder for opponents of incumbent Kim Foxx; they’re all calling her judgement into question. But that hasn’t stopped Foxx from receiving many high-profile endorsements, including from Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth.
“Chicago Tonight” host Carol Marin says she believes that voters have most likely already made up their minds about Foxx, and the recent Smollett news will do little to change it.
Not to be forgotten, Illinois Democratic primary voters will also cast their ballot for their party’s presidential candidate. A new poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale shows Sanders in the lead in Illinois, mirroring the trend in national polls that have shown him vaulting ahead of the pack. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has spent a ton of money on advertising and campaign offices in Illinois, is in second place, with former Vice President Joe Biden in third. The poll has come under some scrutiny for not being completely proportional to the Chicago vs. downstate population, or to the demographic makeup of the state. Whether or not Illinois plays an important role in weeding out the Democratic presidential field remains to be seen, as several delegate-rich states like California and Virginia hold their primaries between now and March 17.
Our politics team of Carol Marin, Amanda Vinicky and Paris Schutz digs into this stories and more in this week’s roundtable.