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Mitchell prevails again against Travis and CTU

Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher, a candidate for state Senate, conducts a village board meeting Tuesday night as election results are tallied. Photo by Paul Valade, Daily Herald.

House Rep. Christian Mitchell survived a primary challenge Tuesday by Jay Travis and the powerful Chicago Teachers Union — again.

Mitchell, who serves the 26th District that hugs the lakefront from the Near North Side to the South Side’s 10th Ward, has backed charter schools in his two terms in the Illinois House. That makes him an enemy to the CTU. A PAC to which the CTU contributes heavily, Chicagoans United for Economic Security, spent more than $200,000 to support Travis.

Two years ago Mitchell defeated Travis by fewer than 600 votes. This time around, he built a more comfortable lead early. With 95 percent of precincts reporting later in the evening, he had 56 percent of the vote.

“I’m pretty ecstatic,” he said. “The voters ultimately chose results over rhetoric.”

Mitchell recited some of his top priorities that he said led to increased popularity with voters: tougher gun laws, education funding reform and fighting drug addiction as a public health issue.

“They said, ‘We like this vision. It’s an optimistic vision. We want that for Illinois,’ ” Mitchell said.

Early Tuesday, Travis said on social media that incorrect ballots were being distributed for her precinct. She found out at about 8 a.m. when she arrived to vote. A little later, correct ballots appeared, her campaign said in a statement. She told the Sun-Times she reported the problem to the Illinois State Board of Elections and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

“Two years ago when I arrived at the polling place there were problems with the voting machine,” Travis said. “These problems are not new. Unfortunately, the outcome tends to be voter suppression.”

In other legislative races:

Senate, 2nd District: CTU was more successful in its fight against charter schools — and Gov. Bruce Rauner — with its backing of Omar Aquino in this Democratic race on the Northwest Side. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Aquino had 53 percent of the vote against Angelica Alfaro, a staff member for the Noble Network of Charter Schools who had generous financial backing from the pro-charter crowd. “We were going against a Rauner Democrat, and people knew that,” Aquino said. “The cuts by Rauner are impacting [voters] and people close to them. We were talking about sending someone to Springfield who would fight Rauner’s corporate turnaround agenda.”

House, 2nd District: Current Rep. Edward Acevedo wanted to retire early and pass this seat to his son, Alex, last year to give him a head start in this election. Eleventh Ward Democratic committeeman John P. Daley, also a Cook County commissioner, nixed it. That helped set up a close race between Alex Acevedo and Theresa Mah. With all precincts reporting, Theresa Mah beat out Acevedo by 500 votes in this district that includes Chinatown and Pilsen. Mah, a former senior policy adviser to Gov. Pat Quinn, had help on the campaign trail from some prominent Latinos in Chicago: Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez. As a community organizer, she led an effort to unite most of Chinatown in a single district, which served her and that neighborhood well Tuesday.

Senate, 5th District: Incumbent Patricia Van Pelt took a commanding lead early over well-known former alderman and mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti. Later, with 97 percent of precincts reporting, she had 68 percent of the vote. “I am kind of surprised,” Van Pelt said. “I thought it would be closer.” Van Pelt said her platform on criminal justice reform and jobs resonated with residents on the West Side.

Senate, 26th District: Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin and Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher, brother of Chicago Bears’ great Brian, had more public policy experience than Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods, but McConchie had heavy backing from the Liberty Principles PAC, run by conservative businessman and radio talk show host Dan Proft. McConchie is big on pro-life issues and is vice president of government affairs for Americans United for Life. With 39 percent of precincts reporting, McConchie led with 36 percent of the vote, followed by Urlacher (34 percent) and McLaughlin (30 percent).