CHICAGO (CBS) — Ald. Edward Burke (14th) appears to be losing his seat as the 14th Ward Democratic Committeeperson after nearly 52 years in that post.
Although the race isn’t officially over yet, according to city vote totals so far, Illinois State Rep. Aaron Ortiz is leading the race with 40.4% of the vote, ahead of Burke’s 32.9%, and Alicia Elena Martinez’s 26.8%. Ortiz declared victory Tuesday night.
Ward committeepersons are responsible for slating party candidates, and for getting out the vote in their wards at election time. Burke has been the committeeperson for the 14th Ward since 1968. If Ortiz holds his lead, that streak will come to an end.
Two years ago, Ortiz defeated Burke’s brother, Dan Burke, in the race for the 1st District in the Illinois House.
Ortiz won the Democratic primary for that House seat on Tuesday, easily defeating Martinez, by a margin of 58% to 42%.
Billing himself as an anti-corruption candidate, Ortiz accused Martinez of being a front candidate for Burke, noting she used to intern in Burke’s ward office, was an employee of the City Council Finance Committee in 2016 while Burke was still chairman, and is a former Burke campaign aide.
Martinez has denied being put up to run against Ortiz to take back the seat he took from the alderman’s brother, or to split the Hispanic vote in the ward committeeperson race.
Burke is facing a federal indictment on racketeering, bribery, and extortion charges.
Federal prosecutors have accused Burke of using his position to shake down firms and individuals seeking city business in exchange for private legal work for his law firm.
The indictment accuses Burke of demanding the owners of a Burger King franchise hire his private law firm for property tax work in exchange for his support for his help obtaining remodeling permits.
Burke also is accused of squeezing the developers of the Old Main Post Office for private legal work in exchange for a tax subsidy for the development project.
Prosecutors also say Burke squeezed Cui into hiring the alderman’s private law firm in exchange for the Burke’s support for $2 million in tax subsidies and a sign permit for a real estate project.
Cui is charged with one count of federal program bribery, three counts of using interstate commerce to facilitate an unlawful activity, and one count of making a false statement to the FBI.
Andrews, a top Burke aide, is accused of helping Burke in the Burger King scheme, and is charged with one count of attempted extortion, one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, two counts of using interstate commerce to facilitate an unlawful activity, and one count of making a false statement to the FBI.
Burke, Cui, and Andrews all have pleaded not guilty.
Burke stepped down as powerful chairman of the City Council Finance Committee after he was first charged in the case last January, but was later re-elected as alderman. He has ignored calls from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and others to resign.
Federal prosecutors are seeking a trial date in early 2021, and the judge in the case is set to schedule a specific trial date in June.