March 20, 2024

O’Neill Burke Declares Victory in Primary Race as Final Votes are Tallied

By Manny Meraz

O'Neill Burke photo

Eileen O’Neill Burke talks to supporters on March 19, Election Day. Her lead shrunk from
10,000 to 1,556 votes
before she declared victory Friday night. (Photo/Manny Meraz)

Editor’s note: This story and headline will be updated with final vote totals once the final votes are counted in the next few days.

Former appeals court judge Eileen O’Neill Burke victory Friday night in the Cook County State’s Attorney race, seemingly sending her to the general election in November,

The finish ended 10 days of post-Election Night drama as O’Neill Burke struggled to maintain a lead over progressive challenger Clayton Harris III,  who has yet to concede the race as of Friday. Barring a recount or legal challenges, O’Neill Burke will face Republican nominee  Bob Fioretti  and Libertarian Andrew Charles Kopinski in the general election. 

Burke’s 10,000-vote lead dwindled to just 1,556 votes over the past 10 days as 109,000 mail-in ballots were counted.

O’Neill Burke stopped short of claiming victory on Election Night when she addressed her supporters. By the next morning, O’Neill Burke led with 51% of the vote  (241,580 votes) followed by Harris III’s 49% (231,788 votes).

O’Neill Burke maintained leads as high as 30,000  over Harris III earlier in the night, although the margin narrowed as more Chicago votes were counted later in the evening.

Despite O’Neill Burke’s lead narrowing, she remained confident when addressing supporters. She reiterated her commitment to her goal, saying, “We can make our justice system work for everyone, in every neighborhood, in every town across Cook County.”

O’Neill Burke’s plan has garnered significant support. A key focus of her platform is to address crime in a more traditional manner, a departure from the approach of current State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who many feel has not effectively addressed the ongoing crime issues in the county.

During Foxx’s tenure, controversies abounded, with crime rates rising, criminal justice reforms causing debate, and the bail system seen as overly lenient. On election night, several of O’Neill Burke’s supporters expressed frustration with Foxx’s administration.

When asked about Foxx, Jesus Ortiz, a supporter of O’Neill Burke, said, “She failed Cook County.”

O’Neill Burke supporters say they believe she is the catalyst for much-needed change in Cook County. They trust that she will prioritize safety for all residents and remain steadfast in advocating for the victims of crimes within the county.

Hunter Vail, when asked about his support for O’Neill Burke in this race, said, “She provides clear representation for the State’s Attorney’s office and brings fairness and justice to all people.”

Mary Gundy, when asked about how she feels about the election not being decided, stated that she feels “confident” when asked about Eileen O’Neill Burke moving on to the November election. 

The reason O’Neill Burke and her supporters are confident about a victory is due to the substantial funds raised for their campaign, providing the resources needed to effectively communicate their message and mobilize voters.

O’Neill Burke’s campaign has raised over $3.5 million, most from Chicago businesses, unions and suburban Republicans. Harris III, has raised just over $1.2 million. The stark difference in campaign contributions gave O’Neill Burke and her supporters confidence as final votes are tallied.

And while the mail-in votes are what is going to determine the result, O’Neill Burke’s message and goals were clear during her speech: “Represent victims and to uphold the law… [and to] build a safer more just Cook County together.”


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