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Dem cash sends Republicans toward ouster from Cook County Board

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who chairs the county Democratic Party, went all out to unseat the Republicans on the board.| Sun-Times file photo

The blue wave funded by Cook County and state Democrats looks like it paid off for the party in Tuesday’s elections for the Cook County Board, apparently sweeping at least two Republican commissioners out of office with another race too close to call.

Late Tuesday, Democrats were close to defeating two of the three longtime suburban Republican incumbents they had targeted.

Incumbent Sean Morrison, R-Palos Park, was barely holding off a challenge in the 17th district by Abdelnasser Rashid, garnering 50.8 percent of the vote to Rashid’s 49.2 percent with 96 percent of precincts reporting. Morrison is the Cook County GOP chairman.

But Democratic challenger Kevin Morrison was ahead with 54 percent of the vote over Timothy Schneider, R-Bartlett, who had 46 percent of the vote with 92 percent of precincts reporting. And the commissioner for the 14th district, Gregg Goslin, R-Glenview, was losing to Democrat Scott Britton by about the same margin with 93 percent of precincts tallied.


Kevin B. Morrison, Cook County Commissioner Nominee (D-15th). | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Kevin B. Morrison | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

While Republicans hadn’t conceded the seats as of late Tuesday, Preckwinkle said her party’s efforts “led to the big wins we are celebrating tonight” which would leave the 17-member board with just two Republicans.

“Together, we flipped two Republican commissioner districts to blue. We defeated President Trump’s ally and Illinois GOP Chair Cook County Commissioner Tim Schneider and elected [Kevin Morrison], the first openly LGBT member to serve on the Cook County Board.”

Kevin Morrison said he was “at a loss for words” but was “feeling good.

“I feel that all the hard work our team, our volunteers, and our supporters put in is showing what taking the extra step looks like and I’m feeling cautiously optimistic right now,” he said. “This shows that the diversity of new members, both in Congress and at the local level, is going to be able to help the country move in a more unified way that represents the multicultural communities that live within them.”

Rashid released a statement saying that he was not conceding Tuesday night because “every vote should be counted and we’re going to make sure that they are.”
“We always knew this race would come down to the wire,” the statement read. “We took on the chair of the Cook County Republican Party in a Republican-leaning district. It is a testament to the strength of our progressive values and the enthusiasm of our supporters, that this race remains too close to call.”
Democrats targeted three of the four Republican incumbents on the County Board, pumping about $340,000 in the 14th district, roughly $310,000 in the 15th district and $340,000 in the 17th district.

Most of the money in the three races came from the Cook County Democratic Party — which is chaired by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle — and the state Democratic party.The state Democratic Party chipped in $50,000 per race. The influx of cash led to contentious races in some townships that Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 presidential election.

The belief among the Republicans is that Preckwinkle, through her powerful side gig, is looking to create a County Board more in line with her Democratic vision should she remain board president and lose her bid to become mayor of Chicago. She ran unopposed Tuesday, winning a third term to the county board, but she is part of a growing field of mayoral contenders.

Before the results came in, Preckwinkle said she thought the party had a shot in each of the races. The decision to focus on these three races was “to have good candidates,” she said.

“I would’ve done it regardless of who the Republicans are,” she said.

Peter Silvestri, R-Elmwood Park, was the only Republican whose race wasn’t awash in Democratic cash, a decision Preckwinkle said was largely because “he’s a moderate Republican [who is] popular with Democratic voters” who faced an opponent who has been fired twice from county jobs.

Schneider said it was “unfortunate” how much money had been put in his race because “when people pump so much money into an election it can change the belief system of what you’ve accomplished.

“I believe I’ve represented my district well,” Schneider said. “I work behind the scenes to make sure that things get done with benefit of district and I work well with my colleagues on the board.”


scott britton cook county board commissioner endorsement 2018 general election rich hein

Scott Britton | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Goslin said the money pumped into his race against Britton, an insurance lawyer, was “obscene.”

“In reality, there’s a huge Democratic wave — we knew that was going to happen,” he said.

Despite the bankrolling, Britton says he’s his own man though he’ll likely agree with Preckwinkle because they’re members of the same party.

“Nobody owns me,” said Britton, who consulted with Preckwinkle before running. “I’m almost 58 years old. I’m not looking to make this a career for the rest of my life. I can pretty much do whatever I want.”

Some of the other new faces on the board include Chicago Democrats Bridget Degnen, Alma Anaya, Bill Lowry and Brandon Johnson, and Donna Miller, of Lynwood. Commissioners will be sworn in Dec. 3.