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Joe Berrios wins big in Cook County assessor’s race

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Democrats across the United States are smarting after election defeats Tuesday, but the party’s leader in Cook County is basking in victory after a bruising battle.

Four candidates faced off to replace the retiring county assessor, Jim Houlihan.

Forrest Claypool, an independent, raised the most money in the campaign’s closing months and got a lot of good press. But Joe Berrios, the chair of the Cook County Democratic Party, still outpaced Claypool by more than 200,000 votes.

Berrios said there was a lesson: “Don’t count us out. Don’t count the Democratic Party out and do not count our organization out of anything.”

Claypool said the results showed something else. “We just got squeezed in the middle between straight-ticket Democratic voting in the city and straight-ticket Republican voting in the suburbs,” he said.

Claypool offered a suggestion for anyone else who would take on what he called a corrupt political machine: “Fight within the party structure.”

Republican Sharon Strobek-Eckersall finished third; the Green Party’s Robert Grota, last.

The assessor sets the value of nearly every property in the county to help determine each owner’s taxes.

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