Former state legislator David Harris will be heading back to Springfield, winning a hard-fought race that ousted state Rep. Mark Walker from the 66th Illinois House seat in the Northwest suburbs.
Unofficial totals Tuesday night had Harris, a Republican, with 14,997 votes and Walker, a Democrat, with 12,708 votes, with 76 of 81 precincts reporting.
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Both candidates are from Arlington Heights. The 66th House district also covers parts of Mount Prospect, Elk Grove Village and Rolling Meadows.
"We ran a very positive campaign," said Harris, "and talked about the issues. The majority of the voters responded to that."
Walker said he tried best he could to hang on.
"(We) threw everything including the kitchen sink at Mr. Harris, and he persevered," Walker said. "I wish him the best."
The first-term incumbent acknowledged he rode in two years ago "on a (Democratic) wave. And now it's flowing the other way and I didn't make it back to shore.
"But I don't want to oversimplify or take anything away from Mr. Harris."
Harris served in the legislature in the 1980s and early '90s. This was a seat the Illinois GOP was interested in winning back after losing to Democratic control for the first time in 2008.
The campaigns attracted more than $1 million in contributions.
Walker raised $671,000 and Harris $330,000, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform reported Tuesday.
Late in October the Democratic Party had contributed $306,000 to Walker's campaign, while the Republicans had given Harris $217,000. Both candidates live in Arlington Heights.
Walker maintained his independence from Michael Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois House and chairman of the Democratic Party, saying he had voted against Madigan's wishes more frequently than the House Republican leader did. But Harris said the donations from the Democratic Party would tie Walker to the leader, and he said legislative leadership must go in order to reform state finances.
Harris served as commanding general of the Illinois National Guard and was a leader of reconstruction in Iraq for the U.S. State Department.
Walker campaigned by walking door-to-door, and Harris rode a Segway to reach voters.
Harris said balancing the state budget and cutting excessive government spending was his top priority. One of his plans was for all state officials to take a 10 percent salary reduction, and another was putting Medicaid recipients on a managed care program.