CHICAGO (AP) — The re-election campaign of Chicago’s top prosecutor could face a setback Thursday when local Democratic leaders meet to decide whether to endorse a candidate in the race amid the city’s ongoing police shooting scandal.

Embattled Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has been criticized for waiting a year before charging a white police officer with first-degree murder after he fatally shot a black teenager 16 times in 2014. Alvarez’s office charged officer Jason Van Dyke in November just hours before a video was released of him shooting Laquan McDonald, and she has faced near daily calls for her resignation ever since.

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She now faces two challengers for her seat in the Democratic primary in March, and party leaders had said they would stay neutral. But they called a meeting for Thursday amid signs of growing party support for challenger Kim Foxx, a former chief aide to the county board president.

Alvarez said she doesn’t expect the Cook County Democratic Party’s support and her campaign says she won’t participate. The two challengers, Foxx and former prosecutor Donna More, planned to address committeemen before they vote.

(Credit: CBS)

(Credit: CBS)

Alvarez, who defends her handling of the McDonald case by insisting that police-involved shooting investigations take time, didn’t win a party endorsement in two previous runs for office. Campaign spokesman Ken Snyder called it a sign that Alvarez was an “independent” voice. He said Alvarez would hold a separate news conference Thursday.

“Anita Alvarez has never had a comfortable relationship with the Cook County machine,” Snyder said. “They didn’t want to support her in the past and they’ve created a process where they’re not going to support us.”

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Such party endorsements in Democrat-heavy Cook County can mean more campaign donations and increased visibility for a candidate, though in recent years the county party’s backing has factored less into winning as patronage has dwindled. The 80 Democratic committeemen considering the endorsement include Chicago aldermen, state lawmakers and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Foxx’s former boss.

On Wednesday, Foxx announced backing from several Democratic elected officials, including voting committeemen who said several colleagues were now supporting Foxx. Foxx stopped short of saying she believed the endorsement was hers, using the opportunity to blast Alvarez’s handling of the McDonald shooting.

“Our criminal justice system is broken,” Foxx said at a news conference. “The events of the last several weeks have illuminated the problems to a greater degree than many of the committeemen may be aware of.”

(Credit: CBS)

(Credit: CBS)

Even More’s campaign said it believed Foxx would receive party backing. In a Wednesday statement she urged the county party to “muster up the courage to resist pressure to slate Preckwinkle’s hand-picked candidate.”

Foxx dismissed the criticism, saying she had a record aside from the chief of staff job, including as a Cook County assistant state’s attorney.

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