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updated: 11/3/2010 5:35 PM

Mussman claims victory in 56th House race

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  • Michelle Mussman

    Michelle Mussman

  • Ryan Higgins candidate for the 56th District Representative, Cook County,

    Ryan Higgins candidate for the 56th District Representative, Cook County,


Democrat Michelle Mussman claimed victory Wednesday in the 56th District state House race after Republican rival Ryan Higgins called to concede what was one of the suburbs' most narrowly decided contests.

After a long night and early morning during which Mussman consistently clung a slim lead over Higgins, final unofficial results posted Wednesday afternoon declared her the winner.

With all 78 precincts reporting, Mussman had 14,012 votes, or 51.1 percent of the total, to Higgins' 13,417, according to unofficial results

The Schaumburg resident's victory would keep the traditionally Republican 56th District under Democratic control. It became a Democratic district in 2007 when retiring incumbent Rep. Paul Froehlich, a longtime Republican, switched parties.

"I think we have every reason to be confident," Mussman said Wednesday afternoon. "I'm satisfied with the results."

Despite holding out hope early Wednesday that outstanding absentee ballots could make a difference, Higgins ultimately ceded the race to Mussman.

"Our side came up short by about 500 votes," he said.

Higgins, of Schaumburg, said he called Mussman about 3 p.m. Wednesday to concede the race.

Mussman said the close contest demonstrated the quality of both candidates, but her familiarity with the district and the number of local volunteers supporting her made the difference.

She said she never believed victory was assured, and credited her victory on strong community participation and the willingness of voters to judge candidates on an individual rather than party basis.

With Froehlich's decision to step down this year, the seat seemed equally open for his would-be successors, 29-year-old Higgins and 37-year-old Mussman.

Both are political newcomers, but that didn't stop them from criticizing the other's background.

Mussman attacked Higgins as a carpetbagger with dreams of becoming a career politician, and questioned his long-term commitment to the 56th District.

Higgins, meanwhile, criticized Mussman for receiving much of her campaign funding from Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan while at the same time proclaiming her independence from him.

The 56th District includes Schaumburg and portions of Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Hanover Park, Roselle and Bloomingdale.