ENDORSEMENT: Pat O’Brien for state’s attorney in Cook County Republican primary


Patrick W. “Pat” O’Brien is about as qualified a candidate as you could find to run for state’s attorney in Cook County, having spent most of his 45-year career as a high-level county prosecutor, assistant Illinois attorney general, defense attorney and judge.

The Sun-Times endorses O’Brien in this primary race.

As the county’s top prosecutor, O’Brien says he would substantially increase the number of prosecutions — he thinks the office is punching below its weight — and repair relationships with police departments that he says have been damaged by incumbent State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

O’Brien said he voted for Foxx in 2016, but became a critic — and candidate — after Foxx’s poor handling of the high-profile case of Jussie Smollett, the actor charged with faking a hate crime mugging. Smollett was allowed to walk, without having to admit guilt, after a politically connected attorney called Foxx on his behalf.

“I saw Smollett, starting looking at the office and other details and paying more attention and decided that this [office] was headed in the wrong direction,” O’Brien told the Sun-Times Editorial Board. “It was a tipping point.”

O’Brien also says he would bring cases to trial faster, shortening the time defendants are held in Cook County Jail.

A Republican hasn’t been elected state’s attorney in Cook County in many years. Jack O’Malley last pulled it off in 1990. But O’Brien’s long resume and insider’s understanding of the office would make him a credible challenger to Foxx even if Smollett had never set foot in this town.

Also running in the GOP primary is Christopher Pfannkuche, a former assistant state’s attorney who lost to Foxx in 2016.

For more information about this race and others, including candidate questionnaires, go to our Illinois primary voting guide. Our newspaper is owned by a group of civic-minded and, in some cases, politically active investors; for details, see our owner information page.

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