O’Brien can’t beat Foxx as a “Republican”
Judge Pat O’Brien is in a unique position to unseat Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx who has made race and racism the determining factor in how she prosecutes crimes. But O’Brien can’t defeat Foxx if he wraps himself in the Republican Party and associates himself with far rightwing extremist like Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau. Cook County is Democratic with a strong conservative base but those conservative Democrats won’t support anyone who associates with extremists
By Ray Hanania
Judge Pat O’Brien is in a unique position to remove one of the most incompetent States Attorneys from office that Cook County has ever had.
But it will depend on how smart he is as a candidate. Does O’Brien want to run as a “Republican,” or does he recognize that this is Cook County, Illinois and in Cook County, a Republican can’t win countywide office?
Things have changed a lot since Bernie Carey held the post. But the Republican Party has been in serious decline, torn asunder by right-wing extremists, the remnants of the Tea Party fanatics and incompetent suburban mayors like Keith Pekau who bring shame to the GOP.
Never mind that Donald Trump is the president and “leader” of the Republican Party on the national level. The fact is Trump is and always has been a conservative Democratic who ripped the heart out of the Republican Party exposing their flaws, defeating one of the Democrats most arrogant and disliked candidates, Hillary Clinton.
For O’Brien though, the real issue is how can he beat Foxx, another incompetent politician who has no real skills as the county’s chief prosecutor?
Foxx’ stumbles are mindboggling. Her mishandling of the Jussie Smollett controversy is no little matter. Last month, Special Prosecutor Dan Webb concluded that Foxx committed “substantial abuses of discretion and operational failures” in handling Smollett’s disorderly conduct case in which he lied to everyone, falsely claiming he was racially discriminated against and gay-bashed.
The truth is Smollett orchestrated the hoax to help build sympathy for his sagging career as a b-rated actor.
Worse is how Foxx has mishandled prosecutions of criminals associated with the looting, arson and violence that spun off the Black Lives Matter protests that began in May. Foxx has dismissed most of the charges against many of the hundreds of suspects who were apprehended, arrested and then charged by local police across the county with serious crimes including gun violence and looting.
Yes, Foxx decides whether a prosecution should go forward, not the police who put their lives on the line, do the heavy lifting and hard work investigating, collecting evidence and proposing the formal charges.
Some critics believe Foxx is handicapped by her racial biases, as well as her lack of prosecutorial experience and legal judgment.
Yes, O’Brien can win the Nov. 3 General Election. But to do so, he has to downplay the fact that he is a Republican and he needs to present himself as a law enforcement champion, which is not a political position.
As a Republican, O’Brien will get support from the small group of Republican voters who are a dying breed in Cook County. So he doesn’t need to appeal to them for support. What O’Brien needs to do is appeal to Democratic voters who dominate Cook County and Northern Illinois.
It doesn’t help that O’Brien stands shoulder to shoulder with disgraced Republicans like Pekau, a Republican fanatic.
If Foxx is going to be booted out of office, as she deserves, it will be because Democratic voters will vote overwhelmingly to remove her. It won’t be because she’s a Democrat, O’Brien is a Republican, or even the racist politics that some supporters and foes on all sides, White and Black, embrace.
Foxx will lose to O’Brien only if he convinces voters he is smart enough to see the bigger picture and that he will represent the county not as a Republican revivalist, but as a “rule of law” revivalist.
O’Brien is not the most popular person right now and we are less than 8 weeks from the election. He only has 1,658 followers on Twitter while Foxx has 9,556 followers on her campaign and 13,000 followers as States Attorney. Foxx’s low Twitter followings are not very impressive either.
The point is O’Brien needs to strengthen his following. He needs to appeal to a wider audience of voters that includes Democrats. O’Brien can’t support Donald Trump nor associate with Trump minions like Pekau – I supported Trump in 2016 only because Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate and because the DNC unfairly undermined Senator Bernie Sanders, who should be president.
Joe Biden, by the way, is a far better choice than Hillary, but I am not sure he can unseat Trump, whom we should thank for tearing the national Republican Party apart better than anything the Democrats have ever tried to do themselves.
But back to the real question: Does Judge Pat O’Brien know how to win election in a Democratic County?