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ELECTIONS 2018 Change is in the air
by Andrew Davis, Carrie Maxwell and Matt Simonette

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Record numbers of voters turned out ( early and on the day of election, Nov. 6 ) to make their voices heard, and what they wanted—change—was loud and clear.

From Democrat J.B. Pritzker dethroning Republican Bruce Rauner in the Illinois gubernatorial race to Colorado's Jared Polis becoming the first openly gay man elected governor in the United States, a sea change took place at the polls.

Note: All of these results are as of 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 6. Results will be updated online.

Dems command quick state victories

Businessman J.B. Pritzker solidly defeated incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Nov. 6, with Pritzker capturing as of press-time some 54.4 percent of the vote. Rauner, who garnered about 38.8 percent of votes, phoned Pritzker to concede about a half-hour after polls closed. Libertarian Kash Jackson ( 2.4 percent ) and Conservative Party candidate William "Sam" McCann ( 4.3 percent ) candidate also ran for the post.

At his victory rally, with Lieutenant Governor-Elect Juliana Stratton at his side, Pritzker spoke of shoring up the state's commitments to health care and immigrants' and women's rights.

"None of us succeed until all of us succeed," he said.

Pritzker—whose cousin Jennifer is transgender—pledged his support for the LGBT community early on, frequently citing his mother's support of LGBT-rights as his inspiration. Shortly before the primaries, he told Windy City Times that, "We've got to stop the rise of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes. We've got to pass budgets that fund programs like the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, PrEP for Illinois, HIV testing, anti-bullying initiatives, and health and safety programs in the LGBTQ community. The budget of the state of Illinois is a moral document that speaks to the values of our government. The values of our government ought to be standing up for the LGBTQ community."

State Rep. Kwame Raoul also won his bid to replace Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who is stepping down from her post, against attorney Erika Harold; Raoul netted 54.5 percent of the vote while Harold received 42.9 percent. Raoul defeated an enormous field of Democratic opponents in the primary and fought hard against Harold, receiving a last-minute cash infusion from Speaker Madigan. Libertarian Bubba Harsy also ran for the attorney general post and received 2.6 percent of votes.

In his victory speech, Raoul spoke of how his mother inspired him by her unwavering support of a family member who had come out as gay: "She taught me that love is love, and that you should be able to marry who you want, and that we should be strengthened by that."

As of press time, several incumbents seemed poised to return to their state offices. Longtime Secretary of State Jesse White ( 68.3 percent ) defeated Republican Jason Helland ( 29.2 percent ) and Libertarian Steve Dutner ( 2.5 percent ). Incumbent State Treasurer Michael Frerichs ( 57.8 percent ) defeated Republican Jim Dodge ( 38.7 percent ) and Libertarian Michael Leheney ( 3.5 percent ). Meanwhile, incumbent Susana Mendoza ( 60.3 percent ) defeated Republican Darlene Senger ( 36.7 percent ) and Libertarian Claire Ball ( 3.1 percent ); news leaked the week before that Mendoza was likely to run for Chicago mayor in the 2019 election.

Races with national implications

With the publishing deadline approaching, Democrats seemed poised to take the U.S. House, and Republicans maintained a slight edge in holding on to the U.S Senate.

And there were some important LGBTQ victories that dotted the evening.

As mentioned, Polis has become the first out gay man to be elected governor of any state. In a statement, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said, "For nearly a decade in Congress, Jared Polis fought to advance fairness and equality in Colorado and across America. He is a proven leader who will take his commitment to securing full equality to the governor's mansion and fight to make Colorado a stronger and more inclusive state."

In addition, Sharice Davids scored her own historic U.S. House win. Davids is the first Native woman elected to U.S. Congress and the first openly LGBTQ U.S. Congress member from Kansas. Democrat U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin marked an important achievement in Wisconsin, as the lesbian incumbent turned back Republican Leah Vukmir; Nebraska voters made history in electing Megan Hunt, the first openly LGBTQ candidate ever elected to their state legislature; and bisexual Oregon Gov. Kate Brown was re-elected.

Also, another important development took place in Massachusetts, where voters upheld non-discrimination protections for transgender people in public spaces. It was the first time gender identity non-discrimination protections were on a statewide ballot independent of protections based on sexual orientation. In a statement, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund Executive Director Rea Carey said, in part, "When given the option to stand with their neighbors or follow the path of bigotry, Massachusetts sent a message loud and clear that love trumps hate."

And Betsy Driver—of Flemington, New Jersey—has become the nation's first intersex mayor. Driver, who was previously a Flemington borough council-member, is only the second-known openly intersex elected official in the world.

Kim Davis—the Kentucky county clerk who was briefly jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses—was denied a re-election bid, with her losing to Democrat Elwood Caudill Jr.

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams was hoping to be the nation's first Black female governor—but was 10 points behind Republican Brian Kemp with 81 percent of the votes counted; and, in Florida, African-American Andrew Gillum conceded the gubernatorial seat to the GOP's Ron DeSantis. And Texas Republican Ted Cruz managed to edge popular Democrat Beto O'Rourke to keep his Senate seat.

However, New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—who identifies as a Democratic socialist—won her race.

As for Illinois congressional races, Democrat Sean Casten was projected as the winner over Republican incumbent Peter Roskam, and Democratic challenger Lauren Underwood defeated Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren—both seemingly riding a blue wave that splashed over Illinois.

Democrat Chuy Garcia easily succeeded U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez in the 4th Congressional District. Gutierrez, who is retiring, endorsed Garcia months ago. Other congresspersons who easily won re-election included Democrats Brad Schneider, Danny Davis, Jan Schakowsky, Mike Quigley, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Robin Kelly and Bill Foster, among others.

Cook County races: New faces elected

This year's Cook County elections saw many changes during the primary that resulted in more races being contested than in previous election cycles.

With the results of the Nov. 6 midterm elections, the uncontested Cook County commissioner seats will be filled with five new people while the contested races will see three new people taking seats. This leaves nine incumbents out of the 17 total commissioner seats.

One of the most talked about Cook County races outside of the commissioner seats has been the assessor where Frederick "Fritz" Kaegi beat out Democratic incumbent and Cook County Democratic Chair Joseph Berrios during the primary. Kaegi won the seat handily against Republican challenger Joseph Paglia with over 75 percent of the vote.

"We are delighted that this election delivered the same result as the primary which was a decisive vote to make the assessor's office ethical, transparent and fair," said Kaegi. "People in Cook County deserve to have a functional assessment system like other major U.S. cities and this is what we plan to deliver."

In the contested Cook County commissioner races, Democratic candidate Bill Lowry beat Republican candidate George Blakemore 90 to 10 percent in the third district.

The eighth district incumbent Democrat Luis Arroyo Jr. was victorious over Republican challenger Walter Zarnecki 89.1 percent to 10.9 percent.

Incumbent Republican Peter N. Silvestri kept his seat against Democratic challenger Frank L. McPartlin in the ninth district with 52.6 percent and McPartlin receiving 47.4 percent of the vote.

In the 11th District, Democratic incumbent John P. Daley also kept his seat against Republican challenger Steven S. Graves. Daley received 73.4 percent to Graves' 26.6 percent.

Democratic incumbent Larry Suffredin won against Republican Chris J. Hanusiak in the 13th district with 77.3 percent versus 22.7 percent of the vote.

In the 14th district incumbent Republican Gregg Goslin lost to Democrat Scott R. Britton. Britton received 53.9 percent while Goslin got 46.1 percent.

Openly gay Democrat Kevin B. Morrison won with 53.9 percent of the vote against

incumbent and Illinois Republican Party Chair Timothy Owen Schneider who received 46.1 percent of the vote in the 15th district

Lastly, in the 17th district Democrat Abdelnasser Rashid and incumbent Republican Sean M. Morrison are currently at 50.6 percent for Morrison and 49.4 percent for Rashid in a too close to call race.

The uncontested Democratic races included incumbent Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Karen A. Yarbrough for clerk, incumbent Sheriff Thomas J. Dart, incumbent Treasurer Maria Pappas and for commissioners—Brandon Johnson ( 1 ), Dennis Deer ( 2 ), incumbent Stanley S. Moore ( 4 ), incumbent Deborah Sims ( 5 ), Donna Miller ( 6 ), Alma E. Anaya ( 7 ), incumbent Bridget Gainer ( 10 ), Bridget Degnan ( 12 ), incumbent Jeffrey R. Tobolski ( 16 ) and Cook County Board of Review commissioner candidates Michael Cabonargi ( 2 ) and Larry Rogers Jr. ( 3 ), both of whom are incumbents.

In the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District ( MWRD ) six year term race Democrats Debra Shore, Kari K. Steele and Marcelino Garcia won against Republicans R. Cary Capparelli and Shundar Lin and Green party candidates Christopher Anthony, Karen Roothaan and Tammie Felicia Vinsion. Shore received 26 percent of the vote, Steele got 23 percent of the vote and Garcia garnered 22 percent of the vote.

Two other MWRD races for two-year unexpired terms saw Democratic candidate Kimberly Neely Dubuclet beat Green party candidate Rachel Wales with 77 percent of the vote while Democratic candidate M. Cameron "Cam" Davis beat Green party candidate Geoffrey Cubbage with 79 percent of the vote. Davis will take over the seat that the late Timothy Bradford held before his untimely death last winter.

Gains for state LGBTs

This year a record number of LGBT candidates ran for office nationwide.

Following the primaries where, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, 627 LGBT people ran for office across the country, 399 of them moved onto the general election. Of these, 11 LGBT people were on the ballot Nov. 6 in the Chicagoland area.

Incumbent Democratic state Rep. Sam Yingling ( 62nd District ) ran against Republican Ken Idstein in what the Yingling campaign considered a tight race. Yingling won with 55.8 percent of the vote.

"We are very proud of our hard work fighting back against Dan Frost and his right-wing funders who peddle in bigotry and intolerance," said Yingling. "I look forward to continuing to serve the people of my district and fight for the equality of all communities in the state."

Two new LGBT candidates were on the ballot for state representative seats—Democrat Lamont Robinson Jr. ( 5 ), who ran unopposed, and Democrat Margaret Trevor, who ran against incumbent Republican Thomas Morrison ( 54 ). Morrison currently has 50.5 percent versus Trevor's 49.5 percent in a tight race that is yet to be called for either candidate.

"I want to thank the voters in the 5th district for making history and sending me to the Illinois House to fight for affordable and accessible health care, strong education, economic development and jobs, good housing and safe streets," said Robinson. "These issues united us in the 5th district, which runs from 79th Street on the South Side to Division Street on the North Side and is made up of all walks of life. I am excited to bring together my experiences as an educator, small business owner, director of a non-profit and the first gay African American ever elected to the Illinois legislature to fight for these issues on behalf of the 5th District and all Illinoisans."

Incumbents running unopposed were Democratic state Reps. Greg Harris ( 13 ) and, for the first time, Kelly Cassidy ( 14 ).

In the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner races, two Democratic LGBT candidates ran for a six year term—incumbent Debra Shore and newcomer Marcelino Garcia. Shore, Garcia and Democratic candidate Kari K. Steele won their races, each with over 20 percent of the vote.

"I am proud and humbled to be selected by voters to serve another term," said Shore. "With the election of my running mates, we have a strong conservation caucus on the Board to protect our precious freshwater resources, work to make Cook County more resilient in the face of climate change, and improve quality of life for people throughout the county."

"I am proud and excited to join the MWRD board to ensure that our citizen's health and safety are always front and center, said Garcia. "Throughout this process, I learned that if you do not push and make your voices heard, even the establishment will take you and your communities for granted. I think that my voice will represent the voice of many and I hope to work with my colleagues for the betterment of institutions and our citizens."

One Cook County Commissioner race saw gay Democratic candidate Kevin Morrison face off against incumbent Republican Timothy Owen Schneider ( 15 ), who also serves as the Illinois Republican party chair. Morrison won with 53.9 percent versus Schneider's 46.1 percent.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Cecilia Horan ( Hartigan vacancy ) ran unopposed.

Two judges running for retention seats—Mike McHale and Mary Colleen Roberts will stay on the bench with McHale receiving 71.8 percent and Roberts at 80.1 percent of the vote.

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