With new map drawn to favor them, Democrats poised to win 14 of Illinois’ 17 seats in Congress

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Despite heavy politicking by both parties as Chicago-area races tightened up in the home stretch, Illinois Democrats appeared close to clearing the bar for success in Tuesday’s congressional elections that they set for themselves when they redesigned the district maps.

Democrats are likely to send 14 Illinois representatives to the U.S. House in January, matching the 14 Democratic majority seats across the state under the new boundaries.

Democratic candidates were victorious in three much-watched northern Illinois races Republicans had designs on winning as part of GOP efforts to retake the House, according to unofficial results.

In the far west suburban 14th District, where President Joe Biden made an appearance to try to help boost U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood’s prospects in the closing days, she prevailed over Republican Scott Gryder in a redrawn district that Gryder thought gave him a good chance to win.

The Associated Press called it for Underwood, who had 53.7% of the vote to 46.3% for Gryder, according to unofficial results.

Underwood declared victory Tuesday night at her election party at Warehouse 109 in Plainfield. She said she wanted to bask in the win that gave her a third term, but knew there was hard work ahead.

“We are going to need every bit of energy we put into this campaign for the rest of this journey,” Underwood said. “Because progress in this country is not inevitable.”

Gryder had not conceded as of Wednesday afternoon. On Tuesday night, he noted “We know we left it all out there.”

“It looks like if anything the race might have been a green wave rather than a red wave with all the money they spent,” Gryder said.

Unofficial results show Underwood leading in Kendall County, where Gryder serves as Board Chairman. Gryder attributed this to people moving to the area from Cook County for more space, less crime and lower taxes but maintaining the same voting habits.

“They came out here to get away from it, and then they vote the same way, and they’re going to have the same outcome at the end of the day,” he said.

And in the northwest of the state, near the Iowa border, Democrat Eric Sorensen, a former TV meteorologist, was out ahead of Esther Joy King for an open seat in a race that was seen by national observers as winnable for the GOP.

The AP had not called the race as of Wednesday afternoon. Sorensen had 51.7% of the vote in the district that includes the cities of Rock Island, Moline and most of Rockford. King had 48.3%, according to unofficial results.

Sorensen declared victory in a statement, and said King had called him to concede.

“I’ve worked to serve the people of Central & NW Illinois for 22 years, earning their trust by telling them the truth and helping them make the right decisions for their lives,” Sorensen’s statement reads in part. “In Congress, I will bring that same honesty to representing them and commitment to fighting for lower costs, reproductive rights, and good-paying, sustainable jobs right here at home.”

In a Facebook post, King said she was honored to run for the seat, but “Unfortunately, this is not the outcome we wanted.”

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten held off Republican Keith Pekau, the mayor of Orland Park, days after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy came to town to campaign for Pekau in the 6th District contest in the southwest and west suburbs.

Casten declared victory late Tuesday and the Associated Press called the race for him. Casten had 53.7% of the vote to 46.3% for Pekau, according to unofficial results.

Casten, who lives in Downers Grove, got 58% of the vote in the DuPage County portion of the district. And he was ahead by about 200 votes in suburban Cook County with 93% of precincts there reporting, according to unofficial results.

Pekau, meanwhile, was ahead 51% to 49% in the small part of the district in the Southwest Side Chicago neighborhoods of Garfield Ridge, Beverly and Mount Greenwood, according to unofficial results. Those areas have traditionally had among the city’s strongest Democratic ward organizations, but also are home to more Republican voters than Chicago as a whole.

And a new Downstate district designed to favor Democrats appeared to tip their way as well. The AP called the race for Democrat Nikki Budzinski of Springfield, who was out in front of Republican Regan Deering of Decatur 54.7% to 45.3%, according to unofficial results.

Three incumbent Republicans were well ahead in congressional races where the boundaries were designed to favor them, and the AP called them all: U.S. Rep. Mike Bost over Homer Markel in the Downstate 12th District; U.S. Rep. Mary Miller over Paul Lange in the Downstate 15th District; and U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood over Elizabeth Haderlein in the 16th District that stretches from the far northwest corner of the state to south of Bloomington.

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November 9, 2022 at 03:41PM

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