Anita Alvarez came out of nowhere to win the Democratic nomination for state’s attorney in Cook County Tuesday. Everyone I knew was supporting Larry Suffredin, who came in third but was polling 6 percentage points ahead of the two candidates who beat him – Alvarez and Tom Allen – as of Feb. 3 (though a plurality of those surveyed were undecided).
Having worked on the Medill Innocence Project last quarter, I know Alvarez was hardly a favorite among those we worked with. I’m told she ran ads trumpeting her success in convicting an innocent man. (Edit 2/8/08 9:45 p.m. The man is Patrick Sykes of the Girl X case, who is presumed innocent by the innocence project and has not been exonerated). I wonder how she’ll fare against Republican Tony Peraica in the November general election.
Admittedly, I’m intrigued at the prospect of electing State’s Attorneys. In New Jersey, where I grew up and where my interest in politics budded, the ballots are much, much shorter than they are here. In my town, we vote for school board, town council and mayor. According to the county clerk’s website, there are four elected offices in the county: sheriff, surrogate, county clerk and Board of Chosen Freeholders (which has 10 members). No judges, prosecutors or anything of the sort are elected.