When alderman Tom Allen saw his colleague Howard Brookins Jr. at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, he strode over and offered a handshake. “What’s up, dude?” he said.

Brookins accepted eagerly, and found his own way of asking if Allen was rebounding all right on the day after they’d both lost the Democratic primary for state’s attorney. “You back?” he said.

Allen nodded. “I’m back.”

The two quickly turned to discussing the hottest topic in local politics: their defeat by political novice Anita Alvarez. They agreed it wasn’t the shocker pundits and journalists have been calling it.

“Our polls showed her in the mix,” Brookins said.

Allen nodded. “And then she got on TV.”

“She needed money,” Brookins said, “and then her husband gave her some money.”

“I know you people in the media don’t have a clue about how to analyze these things,” Allen said to a certain reporter. “But we saw it coming.”

It’s easy to say it after the fact, but they aren’t the only people involved in the state’s attorney campaign offering this analysis. Other insiders are saying that their internal polling—from the beginning of the campaign last fall until its final days—showed that few voters were attached to any of the candidates, and even though people didn’t know who Alvarez was, they liked her name and the fact that she was a woman up against five guys. The other campaigns were hoping that she wouldn’t be able to come up with enough money to raise her profile. But when her husband loaned Alvarez at least $640,000, allowing her to present herself as a prosecutor/mom in TV ads, they knew they were in trouble. “All of a sudden, she had $600,000 and was the 800-pound gorilla,” said one campaign staffer.

According to this view, gender, strong Latino and suburban support, and the perception that the men were consumed with attacking each other rather than the problems of the office combined with Alvarez’s late-hour cash infusion to make her a winner.

But in fact, even with the big money from her husband, Alvarez had far less money on hand than either Allen or Cook County commissioner Larry Suffredin, according to campaign records, and about the same amount as Brookins. Her money just went farther.

Records of the campaigns’ final-month expenditures aren’t available yet, but here’s a look at how fund-raising translated into votes. Only sixth-place finisher Tommy Brewer got more for his money than Alvarez. (The fund-raising totals include cash contributions, in-kind contributions, and loans from July 1 until the election.) 







Anita Alvarez




 $    736,100.00

 $        3.04

Tom Allen




 $ 1,213,135.31

 $        5.21

Larry Suffredin




 $ 1,184,413.52

 $        5.67

Howard Brookins Jr.




 $    730,503.29

 $        4.27

Robert Milan




 $    428,551.49

 $        7.81

Tommy Brewer




 $      35,910.00

 $        1.12