By CARL GREEN
Edwardsville, IL – Unofficial results from the Nov. 3 election in Madison County were disappointing to Labor’s friends in the Democratic Party, confirming a long trending swing toward a Republican majority.
St. Clair County remained a Democratic bastion, but otherwise it was a tough Election Day for Metro-East Democrats:
- Legislature – Democratic state Rep. Monica Bristow, of Alton, lost her bid for a second term to Republican, Amy Elik, while Rep. Nathan Reitz (D-Steeleville) was losing in his first bid for election after being appointed to the House.
- Congress – All three Congressional seats that include parts of the Metro-East remained in Republican hands.
- Madison County – Longtime union supporter Bob Daiber, a Democrat, fell short in his bid to unseat County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler, despite a spirited campaign. With all precincts reporting, Prenzler had 70,539 votes, or 53 percent, to Daiber’s 62,327, or 47 percent.
Madison County also backed President Trump 75,272 to 56,845 for Joe Biden, and rejected Sen. Dick Durbin on a vote of 70,907 to 56,845 in favor of Republican Mark Curran. Meanwhile, St. Clair County supported Biden over Trump, 67,234 to 56,000 and Durbin over Curran, 65,301 to 54,750. Durbin won handily statewide.
Other Democratic candidates for Madison County offices fell as well, including:
- Joe Silkwood, who lost to David Michael for auditor, 56-44 percent.
- Amy Gabriel, who lost her bid for circuit court clerk to Tom McRae, 54-46 percent.
- Crystal Uhe, who lost the state’s attorney’s office to Republican Tom Haine 55-45 percent.
The shift of the county to a Republican majority can be seen in the similarity of their winning percentages.
The lone Democratic victory among county officeholders was by Steve Nonn, the longtime coroner, who was re-elected over Adam Micun 53-47 percent.
On the Madison County Board, Republicans will hold an 18-11 majority if final vote counts don’t change anything. They won eight of the 11 seats up for election.
Madison County Democratic Party Chair Randy Harris, a third-generation member of Laborers Local 338 in Wood River, acknowledged that Election Night was a bad one for Democrats in the county, but he called on the party and its supporters to pull together.
“If it was not clear before last night, it is now – Democrats are now the minority party in Madison County,” Harris said. “But not all is lost. Now is not the time to give up or give in. Now is the time to come together, to unite in our resolve to fight for what we believe in and tell our story.
“The Democratic Party is the part of the working class and union workers, the party of healthcare, the party of good government, safe communities and first responders. The Democratic Party is the party of fairness, equality and social justice. Despite the opposition painting us as extremists, crooks and thieves, Madison County Democrats are the people who keep this county running,” he added.
Southern Illinois has three Congressional districts, all set up for Republican dominance as each includes large rural areas where Democrats and their union allies have less relative influence in elections. So as could be expected, all three were won by Republicans.
Incumbent Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville), defeated his two-time Democratic opponent, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, of Springfield, in the 13th District. Incumbent Republican Mike Bost, of Murphysboro, defeated retired professor Ray Lenzi, of Carbondale, in the 12th District, and Republican Mary Miller won over Erika Weaver in the 15th District, where Miller will replace longtime incumbent John Shimkus of Collinsville.
Londrigan issued a concession statement thanking her supporters and calling on citizens to do their part.
“At every turn, when hurdles were thrown up, we figured out how to clear them and keep running strong,” she said. “I wish I had been able to clear this last hurdle, but I could not be more proud of the campaign we’ve run, the issues we’ve addressed and the effort we’ve put into reaching out to voters.
“Democracy is not a spectator sport. It requires each of us to do our part, and that doesn’t stop. Elections come and go, representative comes and go. The job of the American citizen is constant,” she said.
NO ‘FAIR TAX’
Gov. J.R. Pritzker suffered his first big election loss with the voters’ failure to approve the Fair Tax, his constitutional amendment to create a progressive income tax to replace the state’s flat-rate tax.
The amendment would have shifted much of the state’s revenue burden to its wealthiest residents and given everyone else a small tax cut, while allowing the state to deal with some of its financial woes.
Well-financed opponents campaigned by claiming it would be a tax increase. It needed a 60 percent favorable vote, but the vote in Madison County alone was 79,731-43,266 against it.
“The tens of millions dumped in by anti-union billionaires like Ken Griffin to run a blatant misinformation media campaign clearly took its toll,” said Tim Drea, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO.
They could get a tax increase anyway. Pritzker has warned that defeat of the amendment could lead to an increase in the rate, now 4.95 percent, and substantial spending cuts.
Quentin Fulks, chairman of Vote Yes for Fairness, issued this statement: “Now, lawmakers must address a multi-billion dollar budget gap without the ability to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share,” he said. “Fair Tax opponents must answer for whatever comes next.”
Three of the union-supporting, Democratic state representatives from the metro-east won re-election. Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville) staved off a tough challenge from Lisa Ciampoli to win her third term in a tough, mixed district that can swing either way. Stuart won with 30,413 votes to 26,361.
Rep. LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis) trailed slightly in St. Clair County voting but won decisively in the separately reported East St. Louis vote for a combined total of 26,152 votes to 19,621.
Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea), a House Majority Leader and the leader on most Labor legislation, was re-elected without Republican opposition, brushing aside two third-party candidates.
Still, the Democrat/union delegation from the Metro-East has shrunk by two with the losses of Monica Bristow and Nathan Reitz, who both were running in districts with strong Republican representation.
ST. CLAIR COUNTY
Democrats will continue to dominate the county offices in St. Clair County, where Republicans did not offer candidates in most races. The county, with totals combined with East St. Louis, backed Joe Biden for President 66,698 votes to 56,000. It also backed Sen. Durbin 65,301 to 54,750. Lenzi won 61,227 to 60,400.
Among the county offices, County Board Chairman Mark Kern was re-elected without opposition, as were State’s Attorney Jim Gomrick, Auditor Patty Sprague and Coroner Calvin Dye. Circuit Clerk Kahalah Clay defeated Republican opponent Jason Madlock 64,182 to 56,637.
Appellate Judge Judy Cates, a Democrat, lost in her bid for the Illinois Supreme Court. In her southern Illinois district that was largely Republican, Cates lost to Republican Judge David Overstreet, 358,455 to 212,512, with 94 percent counted.
Madison County Circuit Judge Sarah Smith, also a Labor supporter, lost her bid for the 5th District Appellate Court to Republican Mark Bole.
In one surprising referendum that could make a big difference over time, voters in Alorton, Centreville and Cahokia approved merging them into one city, to be called Cahokia Heights.
The three towns sit side-by-side along Interstate 255 south of East St. Louis. All have lost population in recent years. Leaders said merging could bring more federal funding for infrastructure. The merger was approved 4,428 to 2,650.
Cahokia, a village, now is listed as having 15,241 residents, while Centreville, a city, has 5,309 and Alorton, a village, has 2002. So the new city is starting out with something like 22,552 in population.