Labor News From Our Region
Democrats’ Legislative wins highlight Illinois results
But Republicans show strength, too
By CARL GREEN
Labor’s allies in the Democratic Party had a mixed bag of results to show for their months of work in the Metro East leading up to the Nov. 6 election, with a string of legislative wins balanced out by losses for Congressional seats.
St. Clair County continued to show it is a Democratic stronghold at all levels, electing a strong majority to the county board plus Democratic county officials and judges.
Madison County’s shift toward Republican control, or at least balance between the parties, also continued as Republicans won a majority of county board seats.
SWEEPING THE LEGISLATURE
All five Metro East Democrats in the Illinois House of Representatives won re-election, some in close races such as Monica Bristow of Godfrey, and others in landslide fashion including Jay Hoffman of Swansea. Katie Stuart of Edwardsville, LaToya Greenwood of East St. Louis and Jerry Costello II of Smithton all scored solid wins.
Democratic Senate candidates Rachelle Aud Crowe and Christopher Belt also won to replace retiring incumbents and keep those seats on the Democratic side.
• Monica Bristow was appointed last year to replace Dan Beiser in her Alton-area district and, in this election, faced a tough opponent in Wood River Township Supervisor Mike Babcock, who had run against Beiser previously. When the votes were totaled, Bristow had 18,967 to Babcock’s 18,683.
• Jay Hoffman had 67 percent of the vote, and he has promised to continue as chairman of the House Labor and Commerce Committee to keep anti-union bills from passing and to push through pro-union legislation.
• Katie Stuart battled House veteran Dwight Kay for the second straight election, this time winning with 55 percent of the vote. She has been a strong Labor supporter and very active in constituent meetings and services.
• LaToya Greenwood won for the second time in a district dominated by East St. Louis, collecting 58 percent of the vote to defeat Jason Madlock of Centreville.
• Jerry Costello II, known for maintaining some independence from party leadership, won again in a district less favorable for Democrats, collecting 53 percent of the vote against David Friess of Red Bud. “I am thankful and humbled to again have the opportunity to serve the residents of southern Illinois,” Costello said. “I wish David Friess and his family well, and as a conservative I look forward to working together with Republicans and Democrats to do what is best for Southern Illinois.”
• Rachelle Aud Crowe, an assistant state’s attorney in Madison County, won in an unusual Senate race in which her opponent, Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton, was ousted from the Republican ballot for signing a Democrat’s petition of candidacy and wound up running under a third party. Crowe won easily with 45,356 votes to Patton’s 32,397. She replaces her mentor, longtime Labor ally Bill Haine of Alton, who is retiring.
• Christopher Belt, of Cahokia, a longtime probation officer and from a union family, had an easy time defeating Tanya Hildenbrand of Belleville, with 59 percent of the vote. He replaces another veteran Democratic senator, James Claiborne.
National pundits were watching two of the Congressional races that include parts of the Metro East to see if they caught a “Blue Wave,” but what they saw were Republican incumbents hanging on to win.
• Mike Bost of Murphysboro won his third term in the 12th District over the Democrat, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, and Green Party candidate Kevin Auxier. Vote totals were 134,009 for Bost, 116,985 for Kelly and 7,823 for Auxier.
Kelly had substantial wins in Madison and St. Clair Counties but not enough to overcome Bost’s lead in the more rural counties and Bost’s hysterical television ads purporting to find fault with Kelly’s excellent record as state’s attorney.
• Rodney Davis of Taylorville in the 13th District was also considered beatable, but Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan’s strong showing in the district’s cities (including Springfield, Bloomington and Decatur) was not enough to overcome his leads elsewhere. Cable News Network reported Davis had 135,092 votes to Londrigan’s 127,691. The district crosses central Illinois but dips to the south to include much of Madison County, which gave him 43 percent of its votes.
• John Shimkus of Collinsville won easily in a largely rural district over a Democratic candidate, Kevin Gaither, a teacher from Charleston, who had limited campaign resources. CNN reported Shimkus had 150,938 votes to Gaither’s 60,704.
KELLY: NO REGRETS
Kelly graciously conceded to Bost after it became clear that Bost had won.
“I think we put our best foot forward. I think we were aggressive and it was a well-run campaign,” Kelly told supporters. “I don’t think there’s any different messaging or different campaign strategy that could have been implemented.
“I’m glad the Democrats have taken back the House and there’s going to be a good check and balance. That, hopefully, will be a good thing for the country and not tear the country apart.”
Kelly will be up for re-election as state’s attorney in two years but left his options open.
“I’m a young guy, I’m only 42,” he said. “I never thought I would be the state’s attorney. I never thought I’d get a chance to run for Congress. Who knows? In the end it will always be up to the people. We’ll see what happens. I was grateful to take our best shot.”
The recent trend of Madison County turning more Republican continued with mixed results in races for county offices and the county board.
For one thing, departing Republican Governor Bruce Rauner can take solace in knowing he actually led in Madison County, getting 46 percent to winner J.B. Pritzker’s 44 percent, while Sam McCann, a Labor favorite running as a third party, had 6 percent.
Among county officials, Democratic winners were County Clerk Debra Ming Mendoza, who was re-elected with 53 percent of the vote, and Judge Sarah Smith, claiming a 3rd Judicial Circuit seat with 55 percent of the vote. She will replace Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder
Chris Miller, who rose from write-in candidate to Democratic nominee for treasurer, lost to incumbent Chris Slusser, 55 to 45 percent. Sheriff John Lakin, a Democrat, was re-elected without opposition.
Marc Parker, a Democratic attorney running for another 3rd Judicial Circuit seat, was losing to the Republican, Daniel Dugan, 52 percent to 48 percent.
Republicans, already leading on the County Board, won 11 seats compared to eight won by Democrats. One of the winners, however, was a genuine union man, Chris Hankins, organizer for IBEW Local 309, who won with 60 percent of the vote in the 16th District.
County-wide, voters opted to merge the County Recorder’s office into the County Clerk’s office and approved making the county a 2nd Amendment sanctuary. Alton-area voters chose not to dissolve Alton Township while Godfrey voters gave their township the old heave-ho. Collinsville voters overwhelmingly voted to dissolve the Collinsville Area Recreation District.
ST. CLAIR COUNTY:
St. Clair County remained staunchly Democratic, electing the party’s county officials and slightly increasing the party’s hold on the county board. The county also preferred Pritzker to Rauner by 49 percent to 44 percent while McCann had 4 percent.
County Clerk Tom Holbrook, a former Democratic state representative, was re-elected with 55 percent of the vote. Andrew Lopinot, a Democrat, was elected treasurer with 51 percent. Sheriff Rick Watson, an incumbent Democrat, won re-election with 53 percent. Jennifer Gomric Minton was unopposed for assessor. Democrat Michael Crockett was elected to the Board of Review with 50 percent of the vote.
On the County Board, Democrats won 13 out of 19 seats up for election and increased their advantage by one.
Three Democratic judges were winning in the 20th Judicial Circuit – Heinz Rudolf, John O’Gara and Chris LeChien. Rudolf and O’Gara won in close races, while LeChien won easily in a race that was limited to St. Clair County residents.
But in the all-important contest for the Illinois 5th Appellate District, Democrat Kevin Hoerner of Belleville was defeated by Republican David Overstreet to replace the retiring Democrat Richard Goldenhersh. That leaves the appellate court with a strong Republican majority.
Hoerner ran a determined campaign and won in the metro-east, but the district covers most of conservative southern Illinois and has become difficult for Democrats to win.