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Sean Casten edges Kelly Mazeski in 6th CD Democratic primary; will face Roskam

U.S. House 6th district Democratic Primary Candidates, from left, Kelly Mazeski, Sean Casten, Becky Anderson Wilkins, Jennifer Zordani, Carole Cheney, Amanda Howland and Ryan Huffman met with the Sun-Times Editorial Board Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. File Photo. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Republican U.S. Rep Peter Roskam will face Downers Grove businessman Sean Casten in November.

Casten, who emerged from a field of seven contenders, is running on climate change, but Roskam is banking on his record and his campaign war chest to hold onto his 6th Congressional District seat.

Equipment failures at the DuPage County Election Commission had stalled the counting of votes in its precincts, which make up two-thirds of the district encompassing parts of Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane and McHenry counties in Chicago’s west and northwest suburbs.

That had meant that late Tuesday, with 84 percent of total precincts reported, Kelly Mazeski, a Barrington Hills zoning board member, had been leading the race with 28.9 percent, ahead of Casten’s 27.1 percent overall.

In the end, Casten pulled ahead. With all 640 precincts reporting, he had about 30 percent of the vote (18,863) to Mazeski’s 26.5 percent (16,686).

Next was Carole Cheney, of Naperville, with 17.4 percent and Amanda Howland, of Lake Zurich — who in 2016 lost 59 percent to 41 percent to Roskam — with 12.4 percent.

Mazeski issued a statement pledging support for Casten.

“To the thousands of voters who supported me — thank you for believing in my ability to take on Congressman Roskam and hold him accountable for the issues that matter most to the members of our district,” Mazeski said. “We must stay strong in our efforts to flip his seat and I ask all of my amazing supporters to unite around Sean Casten so we can beat Roskam in November.”

Casten can count on help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which placed the well-financed Roskam on its list of seats it has to flip to take over the House of Representatives.

Roskam, who faced no primary opponent, said he’s sitting on $2 million in his own campaign cash — that’s before any national fundraising organizations get involved. He’s easily won re-election each time since taking office in January 2007.

Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill. File Photo. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill. File Photo. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The 6th Congressional District might be losing its Republican-leaning reputation as its population expands. In 2016, Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the district by seven percentage points.

But Roskam said he frequently outperforms the “top of the ticket,” and expects to do so again.

“I’ve been able to demonstrate an ability in the past to work on a bipartisan basis,” he said by phone. Roskam said he’s been successful because he knows how to translate the values of his “discerning district” in Washington, “to get things done in an effective way.”

He also said he’s called out the Trump administration when they’ve been wrong.

But Roskam’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act sparked several of the Democratic hopefuls — three of the primary candidates are cancer survivors — to vie for his job.

All seven Democrats have accused Roskam of being too conservative for the district and voting in lockstep with Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican.

Mazeski, a breast cancer survivor who lost a bid for the state Senate in 2016, has the pledged support of Emily’s List and Illinois Congresswomen Jan Schakowsky and Cheri Bustos. She watched voting results at home with her family, campaign spokeswoman Whitney Larsen said.

“Kelly is very proud of the grassroots campaign that we’ve run, and we think it is important that all the votes be counted in a prompt and accurate fashion,” Larsen said.

Casten watched from his parents’ home in Hinsdale, Garton said.

Also running in the crowded field of relative political newcomers are Ryan Huffman, of Palatine; Becky Anderson Wilkins, a Naperville City Council member and bookstore owner, and Jennifer Zordani, a regulatory attorney from Clarendon Hills.