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GOP County Clerk Michael Defeats Democrat Richards

Republican incumbent Kathy Michael will retain her seat as McLean County clerk after a bitter re-election fight that was fueled by misconduct allegations lodged against both candidates.
At 10:40 p.m. with all precincts reporting, Michael led with 55 percent of the vote over Democratic challenger Nikita Richards. Michael led by around 6,700 votes, according to preliminary totals from across the county.

Nikita waves
Credit Jeff Smudde / WGLT
Democrat Nikita Richards with supporters Tuesday night in Normal.

Richards was seeking to become the first Democrat to serve in the office that Republicans have typically won without opposition.

Speaking late Tuesday night, Richards said long lines at Illinois State University likely had an "incredible impact on the overall votes."

"What took place tonight, or today, was exactly what took place in the 2016 election. Those young people, we saw videos and photos of people walking away after two to three hours of standing in line," Richards said.

She said her heart goes out to those voters, and she hopes those who waited in long lines do not stop being engaged in local government.

Ethics Complaints

A Richards’ supporter filed a complaint against Michael accusing her of doing political work on a county-owned laptop and of destroying a computer to conceal evidence.

It became the first case the McLean County’s Ethics Commission reviewed since it was formed in 2012. Citing a “limited number of instances” where the campaign laws may have been violated, the three-member panel forwarded the case to the McLean County state’s attorney’s office for review. State’s Attorney Don Knapp then forwarded the matter to the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor’s Office. The appellate prosecutor has not released the results of its investigation.

Richards was cleared in an investigation accusing her of doing political work on government time and shopping online in her role as a human resources manager for the City of Bloomington. An attorney hired by the city determined Richards did nothing wrong.

The county clerk’s race garnered a rare degree of attention from some political heavy hitters. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin campaigned on Richards’ behalf during a visit to Illinois State University.

McLean County GOP Chairwoman Connie Beard held a news conference in part to defend Michael and lament the outsized influence billionaire gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker had in funding Democratic campaigns locally.

Meanwhile, Bloomington voters on Tuesday rejected a ballot question to dissolve the Bloomington Election Commission and fold its duties into Michael's office.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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