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Local

Election night live blog: What we're watching tonight

Midnight: Democrats rule Land of Lincoln

We had to put a newspaper out, so there's been some delay ... in the meantime, the state's political landscape has tilted even farther to the Democratic side.

Who knew it was possible?

Starting in January, Democrats will control every statewide elected office. They will control both chambers of the legislature, and as of now have a shot at a 71-seat "supermajority" in the 118-member House of Representatives.

The state's Congressional delegation will be comprised of at least 13 Democrats and 5 Republicans.

Locally, DeKalb County is represented mostly by Republicans both in Congress and in the state house and senate, with the soon-to-be lone exception of Lauren Underwood, a Democrat who defeated Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren in the 14th Congressional District. Every county officer is a Republican, though the County Board will be split 12-12 once again.

Congratulations to the winners. You've been elected to serve, and we need leaders now as much as ever in Illinois and in Congress.

We don't really know what J.B. Pritzker will do as governor – but he will have no excuses if the state fails to make progress under his watch. If tonight's vote shows anything, it's that voters will not stand for more backsliding in Illinois.

There will likely be changes to the tax code. There may be measures to legalize recreational use of marijuana, measures to benefit unions, expand health care and early childhood education, "equal pay" laws. and increase state funding for schools. These are all things that will cost money.

The voters have asked for this with a voice unmistakable.

Whatever comes, let's hope Illinois moves forward. It seems we're destined to do it the Democrat way – for the next four years, at least.

9:50 p.m.: With one precinct to go ...

There's one precinct yet to be counted here in DeKalb County, not including any mailed ballots (which have up to two weeks to arrive) or provisional ballots.

The remaining precinct is in Kirkland, so it's unlikely that too much will change. I'm told that Clerk Johnson had to go out there to pick up the vote-counting machine because no one could bring it to Sycamore.

DeKalb County followed the statewide trend of electing Democratic candidates in statewide offices – the Dems will sweep those offices, and J.B. Pritzker has overtaken Bruce Rauner in the governor race. 

The county backed Democrats in both Congressional races, favoring Lauren Underwood in the 14th Congressional District over Randy Hultgren – in a race that Underwood leads but hasn't been called yet.

Democrat Sara Dady also won here in the 16th Congressional race with more than 56 percent of the vote, but Adam Kinzinger is cruising to victory elsewhere, garnering almost 60 percent of the vote.

We were out of step in the 70th District statehouse race – Paul Stoddard carried the county by 1,350 votes, but lost in Boone and Kane counties, the latter a margin of more than 2,300 votes that made the difference.

9:30 p.m.: Rauner carries county, Pritzker carries the state

DeKalb County went narrowly for Bruce Rauner (he's up by about 75 votes with all but a few precincts in) but J.B. Pritzker has been the acknowleged winner of the governor's race since less than an hour after the polls closed. Looks like he's on pace to win by 16 to 19 points, as widely had been predicted.

Pritzker waited more than an hour after Rauner's concession before making his remarks. He first thankedhis wife M.K. Pritzker and campaign staff, then everyone at home. He talked about our state, it's heritage, his own successes with the 1871 business incubator in Chicago, and more.

"In Illinois we have a history of building ourselves up from broken places, and the bonds we form in the process become the steel girders that hold us together," Pritzker told the crowd.

Well, Illinois could use some girdering. We'll see over the next four years exactly how Pritzker plans to hang them.

9 p.m.: DeKalb County Board not changing much

It was a good night for incumbents DeKalb County candidates in general. Aside from the treasurer and clerk races going to incumbent Republicans, County Board candidates who sought re-election were returned to office as well.

Sitting board member Tim Hughes (District 2), incumbents Tim Bagby (D-3); Dianne Leifheit (D-8); Jim Luebke (D-9); Suzanne Willis (D-10) and Daniel Cribben (D-11) all won their races on Tuesday. That's four Republicans and two Democrats.

Larry West won in District 1 for the Republicans, holding a seat Republicans had held before, That means the County Board will remain evenly split, 12-12, between Republicans and Democrats.

Seems like these districts continue to perform the way they were drawn. Will that change when they're redrawn? It could, considering that Republicans tend to dominate the countywide offices.

8:40 p.m.: Johnson & Johnson holding leads with south county results out

Incumbent DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder Doug Johnson is up by more than 1,200 votes with two-thirds of all the precincts reporting. That's a 52-48 percent edge for Johnson, a good sign given that the south county precincts are still outstanding.

County Treasurer Christine Johnson looks like she is headed for easy re-election as well, leading Democratic challenger Liliana Orozco with 56 percent of the vote.

8:30 p.m.: Keicher appears headed to victory

Republican Jeff Keicher looks to be pulling away from Democrat Paul Stoddard, now leading by almost 1,000 votes.

Stoddard is winning by a few hundred votes in DeKalb County, but Keicher is winning in the district overall thanks to a wide margin in Kane County.

Keicher has 7,247 votes in DeKalb, 969 votes in Boone and 3,392 votes in Kane County for a total of 11,608.

Stoddard has 7,697 in DeKalb, 747 in Boone and 2,250 in Kane County for a total of 10,694.

Stoddard had a bigger lead in DeKalb County, but it's narrowed.

8 p.m.: Refresh ... refresh ... J.B. Pritzker wins

Still waiting to see really any election returns, and yet the race for Illinois governor already has been called by the major networks and Bruce Rauner has conceded to J.B. Pritzker.

"This election is over but that does not mean an end of the change for the state of Illinois that we need," Rauner said in his concession speech. "This is a time for us to come together, this is a time for us to unite, this is a time for us to put aside partisan politics ... to build a better future for our children and our granchildren."

He then thanked the people of Illinois.

Rauner was a good guy. He came to DeKalb regularly. He knew where this place was and seemed concerned about our problems. He just couldn't solve them.

He also was ready to concede – there haven't been hardly any votes counted and this is over. The result of this race has been a foregone conclusion for weeks, it seems. Fare thee well.

Now we will have another governor with no experience holding public office. Will he fare any better?

Still waiting on results from DeKalb County. Tick, tock.

7:36 p.m.: Art Jones is a hateful troll; no vote totals yet

The Chicago Sun-Times captured video of Art Jones, a Republican candidate for Congress in Illinois 3rd Congressional District, in a hateful confrontation with people outside a polling place today.

Jones is a Holocaust denier who has appeared publicly with white supremacist organizations. He snuck onto the ballot. The Republican Party has disavowed him, though they never should have let him carry their party's standard in the first place.

Jones will not win, but the fact that he will receive any votes at all today is disappointing.

We're still waiting for local returns.

7:10 p.m.: How will Mike Madigan do tonight?
 
How can someone be so powerful and yet so unpopular, right?
 
That’s a piece for another time, but things might be tilting Madigan's way this year, even though he’s radioactive, even for many other members of the party he leads.
 
Unless all the polling data is wrong, J.B. Pritzker will be Illinois’ next governor; the Dems could sweep statewide offices – although Erika Harold has come on for Republicans in the race for Attorney General.
 
Democrats might add a bit to their majority in the state House, which as it stands is split 67-51 in favor of Democrats, with Madigan as Speaker of the House. The Dems – led by Madigan – have controlled the House since 1997.
 
Can Paul Stoddard, the Democrat vying for the 70th District legislative seat, edge out Rep. Jeff Keicher, the Republican who was appointed to the House only months ago after Bob Pritchard stepped down?
 
It’s not a race with a lot of heat, but it’s not entirely off the radar. On Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax blog, he lists it among “Races to Maybe Watch In Case of a Huge Wave.”
  
We’ll be watching the race – closely of course – and let you know if that wave somehow materializes.
 
Don’t be surprised, though, if tonight’s vote puts Madigan’s party even more in the driver’s seat in Springfield.


6 p.m.: Will we see any surprises tonight?

Here are the two best possibilities among our DeKalb County races, either of which would pass for upsets:

1. DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder race: As if running an election isn't a big enough task, Republican Clerk and Recorder Doug Johnson also is facing a determined Democratic opponent in Carolyn Morris.

Morris’ yard signs and advertisements have been visible around the community. She’s put several thousand dollars of her own money into her campaign, along with contributions from AFSCME Council 31 and the Illinois Democratic County Chairs Association.

Johnson has been clerk since he was appointed in 2013 and is completing his first full term in office.

Why it would be an upset: It’s somewhat rare for Democrats to win countywide offices in DeKalb County – unless they’re Ron Matekaitis or Amanda Christensen. Johnson won 58 percent of the vote against a qualified Democratic challenger in Trent Taylor in 2014. There's no polling data for this race, but an incumbent Republican candidate should have an edge by default.

Why it could happen: Morris has been visible and active. She’s played up her background as a veteran and charity founder, and she’s hammered the point that the clerk’s website is not user-friendly – and she’s right about that.

2. 14th District U.S. Congressional race. Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren hasn’t faced a challenge like the one Democrat Lauren Underwood is giving him since he won the seat in 2010.  

The race has tightened up in the past month or so. Hultgren has responded, not only showing up to forums with Underwood (which politicians never do when you’re comfortably ahead) and appearing at a rally with President Trump in Murphysboro last weekend.

Why it would be an upset: This district shouldn’t be close. Voters in the 14th supported Trump by 3 points in 2016; Hultgren beat his Democratic challenger by 19 points. The district includes what would normally be considered “safe” Republican territory, including Sycamore.

Why it could happen: Underwood might be something of a single-issue candidate, but her single issue is also the No. 1 issue in this campaign: Health care. And Underwood is a good candidate. She’s young, she’s got charisma, and she’s got some fight in her, too. The latest polls have put Underwood ahead.

5:25 p.m.: What will DeKalb County turnout be?

If the early voting numbers are any indication, turnout should be better than average for a midterm election – but not on the level of a presidential election, where we’ve seen turnout in the upper-60- to mid-70-percent range in recent votes.
 
In the last presidential vote, in 2016, 10,900 people voted early. Another 1,900 voted by mail. That total was almost 20 percent of the DeKalb County electorate.
 
As of Monday afternoon this year, we had a more than 8,600 people vote early, along with more than 1,370 mail-in ballots. So the early vote total was almost 30 percent greater in 2016 than this year.
 
People might be taking advantage of early voting more as they become more comfortable with it, and I don’t think we’re going to break any records in this midterm election. Not to mention, the weather today has been raw and rainy.
 
In the last midterm election, in 2014, we saw almost 49 percent voter participation. This time, I think it’ll be better. I’d put the over/under at 55. Take the over at 57 percent.

The question we'll have to wait a few hours to learn is, who got more of their voters to the polls?

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