Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown has opened up a big lead tonight against Chicago Ald. Ricardo Munoz in the Democratic primary.
Brown had 66 percent of the vote while Munoz had 34 percent, with 72 percent of the precincts counted.
Democratic voters in Chicago and suburban Cook got to weigh in following a bitter contest largely focused on the political records of the two longtime politicians.
Brown, 58, is seeking her fourth term as the keeper of records for the county’s court system. In recent years, she had run unsuccessfully for Chicago mayor and County Board president while facing a number of ethics controversies.
Since then, she stopped accepting cash gifts from employees and no longer charges her employees to wear denim on “jeans days.”
The circuit clerk’s office has about 1,900 jobs, and Brown was backed for re-election by top Democrats including House Speaker Michael Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White. Brown’s fundraising was stronger, allowing her to advertise on the radio while Munoz could only afford targeted mail pieces.
Munoz, 47, was making his first bid for higher office after 20 years representing the 22nd Ward on the City Council, where he is considered a leader of the Reform Caucus. He was backed by many independent Democrats, including County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and former city Inspector General David Hoffman.
The alderman pledged not to accept contributions from employees and contractors. Brown declined to follow suit, saying she keeps within legal contribution limits and does not pressure folks to give to her campaign. She noted Munoz accepted contributions from people doing business in his ward.
Munoz also said he would move the office fully into the electronic age. Brown countered that Munoz did not understand the complexity of the office, which receives millions of new files every year.
Winning the Democratic primary is tantamount to victory because of the county’s overwhelming Democratic makeup.