Foxx was first elected four years ago on a platform of criminal justice reform. But last year she became entangled in the Smollett case, in which her office dropped false-statements charges against the “Empire” actor for no apparent reason.
Foxx drew three challengers for the Democratic nomination, each of whom criticized her handling of the case. The best funded opponent was Bill Conway, a former assistant state’s attorney whose father, billionaire William Conway, Jr., poured $10.5 million into his son’s campaign.
With more than 80% of precincts reporting, Foxx had 48% of the vote to Conway’s 33%. Local media reported around 9:30 p.m. that Conway had called Foxx to concede.
Smollett, the former star of the Fox show “Empire,” reported to Chicago police on Jan. 29, 2019, that he had been assaulted by two men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, and put a noose around his neck. The Chicago police ultimately determined that Smollett had orchestrated a hoax, paying two friends to assault him.
Smollett was initially indicted on 16 counts of filing a false report. But Foxx’s office suddenly dropped all charges in exchange for the forfeiture of a $10,000 bond. Foxx faced criticism for communicating with a Smollett family representative early in the case, and then for failing to fully recuse her office after the communications came to light. Smollett was ultimately indicted again last month by an independently appointed prosecutor.
At the outset of her re-election campaign, Foxx acknowledged a misstep, saying her office had failed to fully inform the public “of how and why we do what we do.” But in a recent interview with the Chicago Reader, Foxx called the controversy “bullsh–,” and referred to the case as “a low-level offense with an actor who pulled a prank.”
She argued that it was time to move on, and said the controversy had been weaponized by opponents of reform.
“For convenience’s sake, we believe in criminal justice reform,” she said. “But when the reality of it hits, we don’t like it. It’s not comfortable.”
Conway used audio from the interview in a recent attack ad. “If Kim Foxx doesn’t understand what she did wrong, what will stop her from doing it again?” the ad asked.
The winner of the Democratic nomination will be heavily favored against the Republican nominee in the general election in November.
The Chicago Tribune endorsed Donna More, an attorney and former prosecutor who ran for the same office in 2016. Bob Fioretti, a former Chicago alderman, also ran for the job.