“It’s a Democratic county,” said Robert Peickert, chairman of the Democratic Party of DuPage County.
With Sean Casten ousting Peter Roskam, the longtime Republican U.S. representative of the 6th Congressional District and Democrat Lauren Underwood defeating incumbent Randy Hultgren in the 14th, Tuesday, they join the three Democratic incumbent U.S. Congressmen whose districts include DuPage who won re-election: Mike Quigley in the 5th District, Raja Krishnamoorthi the 8th and Bill Foster in the 11th district.
Jean Kaczmarek, a Democrat from also defeated incumbent Republican Paul Hinds in the DuPage County clerk’s race, and Democrat Linda Davenport won a county judgeship with 54 percent of the vote. No Democrat even ran in the district since 2010, before the last redistricting.
Meanwhile, voters may have turned out Republican state Sen. Chris Nybo of Elmhurst in the 24th District (down by 619 votes to former Western Springs Village Board member Suzy Glowiak). Incumbent Republican Rep. David Olsen in the 81st House was down by 325 votes to Naperville Democrat Anne Stave-Murray, and conceded the race Wednesday.
Where Republicans held on to their seats, the races were closer than expected, with Sen. John Curran winning with 51.3 percent of the vote in the 41st District over Western Springs Village Clerk Bridget Fitzgerald, which includes parts of Burr Ridge, Western Springs and La Grange. Fitzgerald led in the DuPage County precincts.
In the 82nd House District, which includes parts of Hinsdale, Western Springs, Clarendon Hills, Oak Brook and Elmhurst, incumbent Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, appointed to fill Patti Bellock’s seat earlier this year, won with just 52.2 percent of the vote over James Caffrey.
“The Trump factor had a lot to do with it,” Peickert said. “What happened in DuPage is what happened in other parts of the country.”
The lack of leadership from Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner also was a factor, he said.
“Bruce Rauner has done nothing,” Peickert said.
But the biggest reason for Democrats’ recent success is the quality of the candidates who ran, Peickert said. The Democratic Party in DuPage recruited some people to run for office and others came forward on their own wanting to be candidates, he said.
“They see opportunities and they see they can win,” Peickert said.
The number of Democrats on the DuPage County Board rose from one, Elizabeth Chaplin, to a likely seven, with at least one in each of the six county districts.
With election results not finalized, the following Democrats were poised to win seats on the county board: Ashley Selmon of Addison, Julie Renehan of Hinsdale, Mary FitzGerald Ozog of Glen Ellyn, Dawn DeSart of Aurora, Sadia Covert of Naperville and Sheila Rutledge of Warrenville.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, a political adviser to Nybo and Republican state Rep. Peter Breen, 48th District, who appears to have been defeated by Democrat Terra Costa Howard, attributed much of the the success of women in DuPage County elections to President Donald Trump.
“There are women who are still angry, two years later, about Trump,” he said. “That anger hasn’t disappeared; it’s festered.”
Constance A. Mixon, director of the Urban Studies Program at Elmhurst College, agreed with Fitzpatrick’s take.
“Even though Trump wasn’t on the ballot, he was,” Mixon said. “His harsh rhetoric, for a lot of women, they can’t get past that.”
Mixon also said changing demographics in DuPage County played a role in the success at the polls of democrats and women.
“DuPage County has become more diverse, and poverty has been growing there,” she said. “I think the message to Republicans is they have got to figure out who their constituents are now.”
Brian Krajewski, chairperson of the DuPage County Republicans, agreed anti-Trump sentiment likely was a factor in the success of Democrats locally.
“That may have been some of it, and there was some anti-Rauner, too,” he said. “Democrats were well-organized from the top down.”
Krajewski said DuPage Republicans must now self-assess.
“We need to figure out what we need to do,” he said. “The demographics here have changed, and we need to do a better job connecting with people who are newer to DuPage County and getting some young people involved in the Republican Party here.”
County board Chairman Dan Cronin was re-elected with 177,997 votes, or 51.6 percent, in unofficial results, but faced a strong challenge from Democrat Lynn LaPlante who received 167,177 votes.
“For a first-time candidate to win by 10,000 votes, that’s a good showing,” Peickert said.
Cronin has been chairman since 2010, but his campaign focused solely on the fact that the county has not raised residents’ property taxes.
The county board passed a maintenance budget, Peickert said. They are basically doing what they have always done, with no initiatives.
Cronin was not immediately available for comment.
Chuck Fieldman contributed to this story.