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Blue wave skips Kankakee County

November 13, 2018

If there was a national “blue wave” for the Democrats, it skipped Kankakee County.

In the 2018 election results, there were two contested county races, for clerk and for treasurer. Republicans won both races — by wide margins.

Excluding the unopposed seats, there were nine races for the Kankakee County Board. Again, Republicans won all nine. Again, none was close.

Take the contest for state representative between Republican Lindsay Parkhurst and Democrat Lisa Dugan. That seat represents most Kankakee County voters. Dugan had been state representative, has a distinguished record of leading community activities and is an articulate and forceful public speaker. She also outspent Parkhurst. Parkhurst won by a wide margin.

Now, in years of running through Kankakee County election results, this county generally has been, in recent years, slightly more Republican than the rest of the nation. In 2008, for example, Barack Obama got 51 percent of the vote in Kankakee County and 53 percent of the vote in the nation.

But this year, Bruce Rauner got 39.2 percent of the vote in Illinois, but 52.5 percent of the vote in Kankakee County. A tectonic shift has taken place — at least in local politics. We are suddenly a lot more Republican.

There are likely reasons. The local economy is the best it has been in years. Local Republicans on the county board have buckled down and cut expenses, rather than hinting at or begging for tax increases. Part of politics, too, is about locating good candidates. People might have paid attention to the national results. The local results also point to a significant change, too.

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