Competitive Chicago prosecutor primary is too early to call.

Chicago — After a contentious Chicago primary, the nation's second-largest prosecutor's race was still undetermined Wednesday.

Eileen O'Neill Burke, a retired appellate judge with a significant campaign war chest, faces Clayton Harris III, a professor and attorney with government experience, in the Cook County Democratic state's attorney primary. The Democratic primary winner in the stronghold should win outright in November.

As late Chicago results came in, O'Neill Burke had a slim lead. “We are cautiously optimistic, but we have to count all the votes,” she told supporters. Harris urged supporters to be patient, saying, “So, we’re going to wait and we’re going to count the votes.”

The election is available because Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx declined a third term. She was one of several progressive prosecutors elected in Los Angeles and Philadelphia in the preceding decade. Foxx has been attacked for being soft on crime, but both Chicago Democratic contenders have said they will follow her on some matters.

Harris believes crime sentences should reflect racial differences and communities. He frequently discusses his life as a Black father on Washington Park, Chicago's South Side. He wants the office to strengthen its special prosecutions team and communicate with police.

He said, “We hear gunshots sometimes, and nobody wants to live like that.” “I know how safety and justice affect communities.” O'Neill Burke advocates stronger sentences, especially for gun traffickers. I don't think anyone in Chicago would argue that our judicial system is broken, she added.

She wants more legal training and an abortion rights section while continuing Foxx's restorative justice work. Harris plans to continue Foxx's contentious policy of not prosecuting retail theft as a felony unless the goods are worth above $1,000. The state's felony threshold is $300.

O'Neill Burke has raised just under $2 million, compared to Harris' $750,000. Her total includes top Republican donations. Labour unions, progressive leaders, and the Cook County Democratic Party have backed Harris. After Los Angeles, the state's attorney's office has over 700 attorneys. Republican Bob Fioretti, who lost the 2020 election, and Libertarian Andrew Charles Kopinski are also running.

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