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Ex-Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran claims victory in crowded GOP race to take on Sen. Durbin

Curran is headed to a showdown in November with the longtime Democratic leader from Illinois.

Former Lake Co. Sheriff Mark Curran
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran has come out victorious in the Illinois Republican Senate primary race that featured five candidates vying for a chance to battle Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin in the November general election.

With more than three quarters of precincts reporting Tuesday evening, Curran proclaimed victory as he carried a healthy 18-percentage point lead with more than 41% of the vote. Retired IRS analyst Peggy Hubbard was running in second place with 23%.

Curran is expected to face a serious uphill battle trying to unseat the state’s senior senator this fall, but he boasted political experience, in contrast to his four competitors, none of whom had previously held elected office.

“It’s cool, it’s an awesome feeling winning,” Curran said Tuesday evening. “I thank everybody that supported me and everybody that’s involved in the process.”

The former north suburban sheriff watched at a small gathering at a family friend’s house as the results rolled in Tuesday evening after he and the other candidates all canceled their election night parties over coronavirus fears. He acknowledged the difficulty voters endured on the most unusual and unprecedented of election nights.

“There was risk in voting today,” Curran said. “It gives you perspective.”

Curran, looking forward at what promises to be a tough race against Durbin, said he’s aiming to prove to a deep blue state that a change of leadership is what’s needed. He said he’s confident he can do that.

“What I need to do is sell people on the possibility, and I absolutely believe in the possibility that we can take out Dick Durbin,” Curran said. “And if we can do that, it’ll be the biggest upset in America.”

Curran, who served as Lake County Sheriff from 2006 to 2018, is considered a principled conservative, one who’s anti-abortion and doesn’t support single payer healthcare but questions the federal government’s spending on the military.

Curran believes in continuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and creating a path to citizenship for so-called DREAMers, but he’s also a proponent of President Donald Trump’s wall along the Mexican border. On climate change, he doesn’t believe it’s a threat to humankind, but he’s said he would like to create cleaner energy alternatives and stop corporate polluters.

Curran has said he was against Trump’s impeachment, and as a senator he would not have voted to convict.

In the Democratic race, Durbin — who serves as the Democratic Whip, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate — won unopposed. In a campaign statement, the senator only addressed the need for the Senate to quickly pass a coronavirus relief package.