Republicans logged a lot of wins in McLean County Tuesday night.
Congressman Rodney Davis cinched a closely-watched race. County-wide officeholders fended off Democratic challengers. The county board held a Republican majority, despite efforts for a potential Blue Wave.
McLean County Republican Party Chair Connie Beard said voter turnout was the major game-changer.
“I think it was obviously a very driven effort from both parties to get out the vote,” Beard said. “Of course, having the presidential election helped. But aside from that, there was still very much of a heightened interest in the local elections, more so than I have seen in a while.”
Republican areas of McLean County had marginally higher voter turnout than Democratic strongholds. Election authorities report overall turnout was about 75.5% of registered voters. But it was about a percentage point lower in Bloomington, which tends to run blue, than in the red rural parts of the county.
Republicans didn’t get everything they wanted, Beard noted. Democrats picked up one seat on the county board and possibly a second, with the contest in District 7 divided by less than 12 votes. Democrats also hope District 9 could flip, but the margin in that race is around 500 votes.
Beard said all of the candidates in those hard-fought races campaigned on what they thought was right for the future of McLean County.
“They ran good races that didn't get into the mud or the dirt or anything like that. They just ran on the principles of the party,” she said. “I'm proud of them all.”
Beard said of all the victories, the rejection of Gov. JB Pritzker’s graduated income tax amendment was the most energizing.
Only about 45% of voters in McLean County and statewide supported the measure. Beard said that means even Democrats are willing to break away from Pritzker.
“Even the Democrat voters had to come together and say, ‘This is not what we want,’” she said. “That kind of gives you hope that maybe there's still some voters in the state that are not lockstep with what their Democratic leadership wants.”
Beard said that sets the tone for an aggressive push to replace Pritzker when he's up for reelection.
“There’s a lot of dissatisfaction with our current governor. The groundwork has been laid for a significant challenge in 2022, I think,” she said. “He should be concerned.”
Beard said the state's COVID-19 response, including the restrictions that took effect on Wednesday, also makes Pritzker a target.
While it may seem too early to be thinking about the gubernatorial election, Beard said, challengers will start to emerge next year.
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