Democrats held onto two key statewide races Tuesday night.
“We’re going to keep helping families send their kids to college, fighting Wall Street and defending working families, and returning money to its rightful owners,” Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs declared in a statement, adding that his challenger, state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, had called him to concede.
“While our campaign has come up short, our movement has just begun,” Demmer said in his statement.
With about 86% of precincts reporting, Frerichs had 55% of the votes compared to 42.8% for Demmer. Libertarian Preston Nelson trailed with 2.2%.
Incumbent Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza defeated Republican challenger Shannon L. Teresi. In a speech to supporters gathered at the Palmer House Hilton in the Loop, Mendoza declared victory, though Teresi had not conceded late Tuesday.
Trailing by more than 17 percentage points, Teresi did not respond to requests for comment late Tuesday.
Mendoza told those who didn’t vote for her that she would “work as passionately for you as I do for my family.”
With about 81% of precincts reporting, Mendoza, seeking a second full term as comptroller, had 57.9% of the votes, to about 40.3% for Teresi, the McHenry County auditor. Far behind was Deirdre McCloskey, the Libertarian candidate, with 1.8%.
Earlier in the evening, Mendoza supporters had tricked into the Palmer House’s Empire Room to await results as the polls closed. Teresi waited for results at Niko’s Red Mill Tavern in suburban Woodstock.
With beer and wine glasses held high, family and friends of Mendoza clapped and cheered at her showing in early returns.
“I’m very thankful to the voters that they continue to trust me to lead them and the state’s finances in a better direction,” Mendoza told the Sun-Times earlier in the evening. “I inherited the worst, most difficult job at a time where nobody wanted to sign up for the task. I’m glad to do it and to take on that burden.”
Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza with her son David voting at Saint Mary Romanian Orthodox Church on Tuesday.
Weeks before Election Day, the Democratic candidates for comptroller and treasurer had held wide leads. Republican candidates for both offices had invoked former state House Speaker Mike Madigan’s “machine politics,” in campaign literature as they challenged the Democratic incumbents.
Mendoza, elected comptroller in 2016, is the highest-ranking Latina elected official in Illinois. She previously served as the Chicago city clerk and as a state representative, and in 2019 unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Chicago.
Shannon Teresi, the Republican nominee for Illinois comptroller, shown speaking at a Darren Bailey rally in Glen Ellyn on Halloween.
Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Mendoza touted her office’s ability to get the state’s finances “under control.”
Her campaign raised more than $2.85 million compared to the $139,000 raised by her Republican challenger.
Teresi is a certified public accountant. Her campaign raised doubts about Mendoza’s handling of the state’s finances, pledging to conduct a thorough audit if elected.
Frerichs leading in early returns
Frerichs was elected state treasurer since 2014. He previously was a state senator, and he also worked as the Champaign County auditor.
Treasurer Michael Frerichs cast his vote in Champaign.
He touted his office’s work returning unclaimed property to Illinois residents and overhauling the state’s Bright Start college savings program.
Demmer served five terms in the State House. During his campaign, he had pledged to fight for lower taxes.
Elvia Malagón’s reporting on social justice and income inequality is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.
Illinois state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, photographed at the Illinois state capitol in 2020.
Ted Schurter/The State Journal Register, distributed by the Associated Press