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Treasurer’s race still too close to call as more votes trickle in

Twenty-four hours after the polls closed, neither Republican Tom Cross nor Democrat Mike Frerichs could declare victory or concede defeat in a race for state treasurer that truly was too close to call.

Vying for post that’s been a springboard to higher office for several ambitious politicians over the decades, the two candidates — both state lawmakers — continued closely watching the counting of every ballot on Wednesday.

According to the Associated Press, votes had been counted from 99 percent of precincts, and Cross led Frerichs by less than 23,000 votes out of nearly 3.4 million. That meant Cross had 48.2 percent to 47.6 percent for Frerichs, with Libertarian Matthew Skopek getting about 4 percent.

Cross’ campaign manager said on Twitter that less than one-half of one percent of the votes remained to be counted, but the GOP nominee did not declare himself the winner.

And the Frerichs campaign spokesman, Dave Clarkin, said his calculations indicated that “the race is statistically tied now.”

Morevoer, “There were still roughly 50,000 votes to be counted in Cook County and hundreds in other counties across the state as of this morning,” Clarkin said Wednesday. 

Indeed, election officials indicated there may be more than 50,000 votes that could still factor in from Chicago and suburban Cook County.

Courtney Greve, a spokeswoman for the county clerk’s office, said there were at least 32,000 absentee votes and 8,000 provisional ballots to be counted yet. 

Jim Allen, a spokesman for Chicago’s election board, said officials were counting 9,900 absentee ballots they had received and expected to complete that task overnight. 

Another 12,000 or 13,000 voters in Chicago had taken absentee ballot that had not yet been received Wednesday by the election board. They could be tallied also if they were postmarked by Monday and are received by Nov. 18.

And Chicago officials will be looking Thursday at votes from 50 precincts that did not transmit.

Of the five statewide offices, the treasurer’s job was the only open post on the ballot Tuesday. Republican incumbent Dan Rutherford stepped down after one term as treasurer to make a failed run for governor. 

Although the policy-making influence of the treasurer’s office is limited, the job has served as a way station for the likes of U.S. Sen. Adlai Stevenson III and Gov. Pat Quinn.

Cross is a longtime member of the Illinois House from Oswego, while Frerichs is a state senator from Champaign.

Frerichs outspent Cross. But Cross came into the race with greater name recognition thanks to his long tenure in Springfield.

Cross, 56, was Illinois House minority leader for 12 of his more than 20 years as a state representative.

But he vowed to sue his longtime colleagues in the General Assembly if they continued to pass budgets that were not balanced.

He also made campaign promises to issue quarterly “report cards” on state government finances and on the Bright Start college savings program.

Cross had opposed same-sex marriage until he voted to legalize it last year.

As a moderate Republican, he got support from former Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias as well as Rutherford and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

Rutherford gave Cross’ campaign $45,000 in contributions in the last couple of weeks of the campaign, according to state records.

Cross graduated from Yorkville High School and Illinois Wesleyan University and received his law degree from Samford University in Alabama.

Frerichs, 41, is a certified public financial officer who was born in Gifford, a small town near Champaign, and graduated from Yale University.

He failed in a 2000 campaign to win election as a state lawmaker but became a Champaign County board member and county auditor. He moved up to the state Senate eight years ago.

Frerichs received heavy support from the Democratic Party of Illinois and from a litany of labor organizations, including the unions for teachers, laborers, plumbers, pipefitters, service employees, state clerical staff, firefighters, electricians, carpenters, grocery-store workers and postal carriers, according to state campaign finance reports.

Frerichs promised to invest $300 million in Illinois technology companies.

During the race, Frerichs had to backtrack from his criticism of “overseas” investments after Rutherford said Israel is the only foreign country where the state treasurer has invested.

Contributing: Rummana Hussain