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Charged With Attempted Extortion, Ald. Edward Burke Faces Judgment From Voters In 14th Ward

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's been three months since the FBI raided Ald. Edward Burke's offices and nearly two months since he was charged with attempted extortion; now the city's longest-serving alderman could find out Tuesday if he's going to lose his seat on the City Council.

Burke has been alderman of the 14th Ward since 1969, and he hasn't faced a challenger for re-election since 2007, when he cruised to an easy victory with nearly 90 percent of the vote. But on Tuesday, Burke faces two challengers seeking to end his tenure on the City Council.

Federal prosecutors have accused Burke of using his position to try to steer business to his private law firm. He resigned his seat as chairman of the City Council Finance Committee after he was charged but has maintained he did nothing wrong and stayed in the race for re-election.

Congressman Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, who forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel into a runoff election in 2015, has thrown his support behind political newcomer Tanya Patino.

Patino, a civil engineer, also is the girlfriend of newly elected Illinois state Rep. Aaron Ortiz, who defeated Burke's brother in the 2018 Democratic primary.

Burke's other challenger is Jaime Guzman, an attorney and former aide to Garcia, who has been endorsed by both of Chicago's major newspapers.

There was a bit of drama in the race early Tuesday, as Burke showed up at his polling place with candy for the election judges. An official for another candidate said Burke had no business being there, especially since the alderman already had voted early before Election Day.

Burke Polling Place
Ald. Edward Burke (left) visits a 14th Ward polling place on Election Day, and hands out candy to election judges. A representative for one of his opponents (pointing) said he had no business being there, because he had voted early. (Credit: CBS)

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners said there was no issue with Burke being at the polling place to give candy to the election judges or to confirm his early vote had been filed as long as he wasn't telling people how they should vote. Board spokesman Jim Allen said politicians all across the city commonly bring coffee or donuts to the polls, and it's not an issue as long as they aren't electioneering.

With three candidates on the ballot, it's possible no one wins the 14th Ward race outright on Tuesday. If no candidate gets a majority of the vote on Tuesday, the top two finishers will face off in a runoff election in April.

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