Durkin, Merkle, Stella advance to general election; 3 ballot measures defeated
Primary election season was a tough road for some Republican incumbents in Illinois, including House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), after the party voted for a highly unfavorable 32 percent state income tax hike.
After what some Republicans described as a disastrous year in the General Assembly, Durkin was challenged in the against a political rival who referred to him as a "Democrat wearing Republican clothes."
"Five members of [Durkin's] leadership team were among the 15 GOP members who voted in favor of the budget that carried a permanent 32 percent income tax hike," Burr Ridge Village President Mickey Staub wrote in a press release, as previously reported by Will County Gazette.
Durkin defeated Staub in a key win for the GOP establishment as it attempts to ward off an insurgency for the party's more conservative wing.
Unofficial results from Cook and Will counties showed Durkin had 69 percent of the vote to Straub's 31 percent, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“Overall, the state of Illinois, our group and my team did very well,” Durkin told the Chicago Tribune.
Three key ballot measures were also defeated that night, in what could be seen as a hint to the Republican candidates who survived the primaries. Voters in Will, Grundy and Kendall counties shot down a $90 million in school building bonds, the creation of a new .0075 percent tax for firefighter pension fund purposes and a significant property tax increase in the New Lenox Fire Protection District.
Minooka County representatives could not assure voters that their taxes would not increase in order to fund the school building bonds.
"Our plan is to structure the bond payments so that they increase each year as overall property value increases, allowing the tax rate needed to repay the debt to remain the same," they told Channahon Patch.
Two out of three voters were against creating a new tax for firefighter pensions, and the New Lenox property tax hike met staunch opposition on social media, ultimately leading to its demise.
Merkle defeated two challengers, Patrick Harmon and John Morrow, for a seat in Illinois' 2nd Congressional District by a slim margin. Merkle received 36.7 percent of the vote, while Harmon and Morrow received 35.3 and 27.9 percent, respectively.
Though Merkle only won Kankakee County, his consistent performance in both Will and Cook counties assured his victory.
Merkle ardently opposes any income tax increases or reducing defense spending. He also opposes federal spending as a means of attaining economic growth and repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Next, Merkle will challenge Democratic incumbent Robin Kelly for the seat in November's election.
In the 11th Congressional District, Stella defeated Connor Vlakancic, a former Silicon Valley professional, by nearly 50 points.
Stella ran an education-friendly campaign, though he stuck to key Republican issues such as repealing Obamacare, enacting comprehensive immigration reform and simplifying the tax code, according to his website.
"Students should not have to graduate from colleges with loan burdens, nor heavy taxation debt before they even have a chance to find gainful employment in their field of study," Stella wrote.
Stella will face Democratic incumbent Bill Foster, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, in November's election.