February 28, 2024

Democratic Candidate Bios: Cook County State’s Attorney Race

By Delaney Disario
@redlineproject

Eileen O'Neill Burke imageClayton Harris III graphic

The Illinois Democratic primary elections are quickly approaching, and the race for Cook County State’s Attorney is heating up. Candidates are fighting to replace the current State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who is not running for a third term. 

Former Assistant State’s Attorney Clayton Harris III will be up against former state appellate judge and prosecutor Eileen O’Neill Burke during the March 19 primary. The winner of the primary will advance to the general election in November against unchallenged Republican candidate Bob Fioretti and Libertarian Andrew Charles Kopinski. Democrats have won every election for Cook County State’s Attorney since 1996. 

Although limited in political experience, Clayton Harris III has worked for the state in different positions for over a decade cumulatively. Harris has experience in the state’s attorney office, as he served as an assistant state’s attorney under Richard Devine for four years. He also served as chief of staff at the Illinois Department of Transportation and was executive director of the IL International Port District until 2020. 

If elected, Harris plans to uphold the Pretrial Fairness Act, passed in September, which assumes innocence and eliminates cash bonds. He will also continue Foxx’s policy of not considering retail theft under $1,000 a felony, but rather prosecuting it as a misdemeanor, something that O’Neill Burke doesn’t agree with.

Eileen O’Neill Burke, a former prosecutor and judge, wants to change multiple things about Foxx’s Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. From seeking outside prosecution for police officer defendants to charging shoplifting as a felony as low as $300, O’Neill Burke plans to “uphold the law” if elected. 

The two candidates have raised nearly the same amount of money for their respective campaigns, and have similar endorsements across the board. O’Neill Burke has received endorsements from the Chicago Tribune and multiple members of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, while Harris has received endorsements from the Cook County Democratic Party and Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle.


Google Trends


According to an analysis of Google search data, Harris III has been searched for more in 2024 than his opponent, Eileen O’Neill Burke. Since both candidates are relatively unknown to the public, we will likely see a spike in searches for both candidates leading up to the election. While this data may not predict who will win the Democratic primary, it gives us a good idea of who voters are looking into. Harris has hit his peak in searches over the past two weeks, while O’Neill Burke is still trailing behind.

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