Amid a wave of hotly contested races, Election Night also proved a test of political might for both Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Chicago’s mayor played an active role in five legislative races, and won four. Lightfoot was also an early supporter of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who fended off three challengers — and millions spent against her — to secure a second term.
The Democratic governor saw wins in all seven races he supported, which included the endorsement of Foxx.
Pritzker’s big legislative race victory came in the 12th District in the Illinois House, where he endorsed Margaret Croke, a progressive activist who serves as deputy chief of staff for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Croke successfully unseated Lightfoot-backed incumbent Jonathan A. “Yoni” Pizer, who was appointed to the seat last month to replace now-state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago.
With all precincts reporting, Croke beat Pizer by about five percentage points — 46.4% to 41%.
Pizer was a strong supporter of Lightfoot’s mayoral campaign, and the two are friends and allies of the LGBTQ community. For Pizer, Lightfoot held an endorsement rally, a canvass kickoff, contributed $5,000 and paid for social media ads and a digital video featuring Pizer and Lightfoot.
Pritzker contributed $57,800 to Croke’s campaign, in addition to endorsing her. The Democratic governor, who spent $171 million of his own money to defeat former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, also gave $2,500 each to incumbent State Rep. Jawaharial “Omar” Williams in the Illinois House 10th District; incumbent State Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, in the Illinois House 19th District and incumbent State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, in the 29th Illinois House District.
All three incumbents prevailed on Election Night. Williams was appointed to the seat in May when Melissa Conyears-Ervin resigned to become city treasurer. A group of Democratic ward bosses chose Williams, 27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett’s son, as the newest state representative from the city’s West Side.
Pritzker also contributed $5,000 each to State Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin, in her 22nd District race and State Sen. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, in his 10th District race. Both Castro and Martwick won back their seats.
Lightfoot also endorsed State Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado in her 3rd District race in the Illinois House. Lightfoot held a canvass kick-off launch and rally, gave Delgado $3,500 and ran a blitz of social media ads for her. Both Lightfoot and Delgado worked together on the Chicago Police Board. The mayor also vouched for Delgado because her floor leader, Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th), and Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) and Ald. Nick Sposato (38th) asked her to get involved.
Delgado narrowly defeated Chicago Teachers Union-backed candidate Nidia Carranza, a Chicago Public Schools teacher, 51.7% to 48.3%.
Delgado was appointed to fill the seat of former State Rep. Luis Arroyo, who stepped down after being charged with bribery. An issue throughout the campaign was the way Delgado was appointed, with the help of Arroyo’s Democratic committee votes. She is facing a series of qualifications challenges which she has called “purely political.”
Those challenges are coming from Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, and State Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, D-Naperville. They allege her appointment was unduly influenced by Arroyo.