Mitt Romney bolstered his position as the frontrunner of the GOP presidential candidates with a strong victory over Rick Santorum in the Illinois primary March 20.
Romney delivered his victory speech in Schaumburg at a relatively early time: 8 p.m. With 98 percent of the votes in at that point, he had 47 percent of the vote, with Santorum trailing at 35 percent. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich had 9 and 8 percent, respectively.
The win may provide Romney the momentum he needs to clinch the nomination.
Befitting someone who believes he will face President Obama in November's general election, Romney spoke only of the chief executive. At one point, the former Massachusetts governor said, "We know our future is brighter than these troubled times. We deserve a president who believes in us."
Santorum left the state Monday and was watching the numbers from an election-night party in Gettysburg, Pa., in the state he once served as a U.S. senator.
WGN-TV reported that the voter turnout was the lowest ever for a presidential primary, with the percentage in the lower 20s.
U.S. House and state Senate races
There were several statewide races that garnered attention statewide and even nationally.
In the 2nd Congressional District, Democrats Debbie Halvorson and Jesse Jackson Jr. had waged an intense war of words. However, Jackson had little problem in the election, winning handily.
Halvorson was challenging Jackson after losing her 11th District seat to Republican Adam Kinzinger in 2010. With 88 percent of precincts reporting, Jackson had 71 percent of the vote. He said in his victory speech that this win was probably the most meaningful of all his elections, and thanked Halvorson for making him "a better candidate."
Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth also won rather easily, defeating fellow Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi. She will now go on to face Republican Joe Walsh in the general election. In a statement, Duckworth said, "As we turn our focus to defeating Joe Walsh, it's even more important for us to remember what this election is all about. ... It is a personal commitment to do my part to fulfill the promise of America for the families of the 8th District."
Speaking of Kinzinger, it looked as if he was defeating fellow Republican Don Manzullo in a rare match-up of incumbents. ( Because of redistricting, they had to face each other. ) With 74 percent of precincts reporting, Kinzinger had a 56-44 edge.
Jan Schakowsky won in a walk over Simon Ribeiro, with the 9th Congressional District incumbent getting more than 90 percent of the vote.
In the 10th Congressional District Democratic primary, businessman Brad Schneider ( who has been under fire for donating to Republicans ) edged 25-year-old candidate Ilya Sheyman 47 percent to 39 percent. Schneider will now square off against Republican Bob Dold.
"Brad has run a spirited campaign over these past 12 months, and will need all our help to defeat Congressman Dold in November," said Sheyman. "I'll stand strongly behind him to take back the 10th Congressional District for the Democrats for the first time in 32 years."
An intriguing race in the state Senate arena involved Democrat Patricia Van Pelt Watkins ( whom Carol Moseley Braun infamously called a crack addict when they both ran for mayor last year ) , who defeated incumbent Annazette Collins in the 5th District.
Cassidy beats Basta
In the most-watched primary in LGBT Chicago, 14th District state Rep. Kelly Cassidy defeated challenger Paula Basta.
The two have been engaged in tight battle for the seat that Cassidy was appointed to last spring, a race that offered an unprecedented choice between two longtime lesbian advocates and divided LGBT political activists.
See the full story at www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Cassidy-wins-14th-District-Race/36785.html .
Madigan overpowers Piszczor
State Rep. Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, easily pushed back a challenge from Michele Piszczor, garnering more than 75 percent of the vote. However, Piszczor told Progress Illinois she believes the House speaker engaged in misconduct, saying, "I know he cheated." Madigan has been in the Illinois General Assembly since 1970.
In her re-election bid for commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, open lesbian incumbent Debra Shore won enough votes to be among the Democrats moving on to the November general election. With 98 percent of the city votes counted, Shore was the top Democratic vote getter, with 20.41 percent and 108,875 votes. In suburban Cook County she also was in the lead; with almost all precincts reporting, she had 22.2 percent, or 81,403 votes.
Dorothy Brown easily kept her seat as Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County a closely watched race against 22nd Ward Ald. Rick Munoz, pulling in 65 percent of the vote ( with 98 percent of precincts reporting ) . Munoz had voiced his support for marriage equality in an interview with Windy City Times, while Brown said she was waiting to see how civil unions evolved. Munoz told WGN-TV that the results show that Cook County is not yet ready for reform.
Two openly gay men were among the Democratic candidates for judge in the 8th Subcircuit, Cole vacancy. With 98 percent of the votes in, John Ehrlich had 35 percent ( 8,077 ) of the votes to Brad Trowbridge's 10.49 percent ( 2,407 ) ; Ellis Levin had 10.77 percent and Helaine Berger and James Kaplan each had about 19 percent.
In the Democratic race for the Chiola vacancy in the 8th Subcircuit, Celia Gamrath had 49 percent of the vote with 98 percent counted, followed by James Shapiro at 33 percent.
Openly lesbian Judge Mary Trew appears to have lost in her race for the 9th Subcircuit Epstein vacancy, taking into account both the city and suburban votes ( in the city she had about 26 percent and in the suburbs about 22 percent )
Lesbian judicial candidate Andrea Schleifer appears to have won her Democratic race in the 12th Subcircuit, Rochford vacancy, with 61 percent of the vote.
Lesbian judicial candidate Deidre Baumann lost in her bid for the Stewart vacancy; she had about 8 percent of the vote, while Patricia Leeming had about 33 percent.
Gay attorney John G. Dalton won his judicial primary in Kane County for the 16th Dist. 2nd Subcircuit seat without challenge. He will face off against John Walters in the general election.
Mike Forti, a gay Democratic Cook County Judicial Circuit candidate for the Simmons Jr. vacancy, lost his race to Jessica O'Brien. Forti had 31 percent of the vote ( with 98 percent of precincts reporting ) to O'Brien's 48 percent.
More gay candidates
A few openly gay candidates sailed to success without opposition. Openly gay 13th Dist. Rep. Greg Harris ran unopposed for his seat. Deb Mell, 40th Dist. Rep. and an out lesbian, ran unopposed in the primary and will face off in the general election against Antoinette "Toni" Puccio-Johnson. Elsewhere on the state House trail, out gay candidate for the 62nd Dist. Sam Yingling was also unchallenged in the primary and will go up against Sandy Cole in the general election.
Indicted candidate wins big
In an interesting development, Democratic incumbent state Rep. Derrick Smith of Chicago defeated Tom Swiss with 77 percent of the vote ( with 92 percent of precincts reporting ) a week after being indicted on a federal bribery charge. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Smith, a 2011 appointee, allegedly accepted $7,000 to write a recommendation letter for a day-care center.