Editorial: Burke and Harris deliver a much-needed lesson in how to behave, win or lose

It took 10 days to determine a winner in the Democratic primary for Cook County state’s attorney.

During that time, there were many voices espousing electoral conspiracy theories amid twists and turns that didn’t engender voter confidence. Most notable was the disclosure on the Saturday following the March 19 primary the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners had failed to account for more than 10,000 mail-in ballots just as Eileen O’Neill Burke’s campaign was preparing to declare victory.

So we waited nearly another week as reporters dutifully chronicled the day’s count both at the Chicago board and at the Cook County Board of Election Commissioners, which oversaw the suburban tallies.

Throughout the process, we were cheered to see the campaigns for both Burke and Clayton Harris III keep their cool. There were no accusations; both campaigns took pains to reassure supporters that they were present for the counting and that they’d seen no irregularities or anything suggesting votes weren’t being properly registered.

Those statements went a long way toward keeping emotions in check. We wish, of course, we could say the same about the Republican standard-bearer for president, who already is sowing doubt in his supporters’ minds that the vote still months away won’t be fair.

But hoping Donald Trump will behave according to ordinary civil standards and customs is naive in the extreme, we’ve all found. In the meantime, we can look to the conduct of these candidates here at home for how to behave in an emotional, closely fought contest.

There were no fruitless recount requests that only would have needlessly dragged out the election. Even Harris’ most staunch backers, like Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, offered their congratulations to Burke along with promises to work together.

Our thanks to both Burke and Harris for setting the proper example and showing those too young to have experienced anything other than the Trump era how to behave, both as a winner and a loser.

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