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After Opposing Soda Tax, Boykin Faces Primary Fight

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Cook County commissioner who led the fight against the sweetened beverage tax is now fighting to keep his job.

Richard Boykin was the first Democrat to oppose the soda tax championed by Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle.

Now, CBS 2's Derrick Blakley reports, he says he is facing political punishment from Preckwinkle and her union allies, who are working to force him out.

"It's my understanding that she's behind this," said Boykin. "She's basically urging the unions to pour as much money as they can into trying to defeat me."

Boykin's opponent in Tuesday's primary is Chicago Teachers Union organizer Brandon Johnson, who says he is dedicated to protecting county services, and county jobs.

"This race is really about demanding that public services are available to people, health care," Johnson said.

To maintain and expand services like county health care, Johnson is advocating a countywide head tax on big employers.

He said large companies can afford it after the corporate tax cut passed by Republicans in Washington.

Boykin said that would send large companies fleeing the area for more affordable locations.

"My opponent's policies would send jobs out of the county as far as you could say go," Boykin said.

The soda tax war is continuing in the battle for campaign cash, too.

Johnson has received more than $300,000 from big unions.

Boykin has taken in around $250,000 from the food and beverage industry and business groups.

Preckwinkle has formally endorsed Johnson. In a statement Friday, Boykin said: "There can now be no doubt that my opponent has been handpicked by President Preckwinkle to put an end to the independent, progressive brand of leadership that we have provided these past several years."

"The Preckwinkle administration wants to punish us for repealing the sugar tax."

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