Pankau topples Ramey in fierce senate race
A contentious battle between two DuPage County lawmakers ended Tuesday with Sen. Carole Pankau sailing to a decisive victory over Rep. Randy Ramey for a chance to keep her seat in Illinois' 23rd Senate District.
Pankau landed 57 percent of the total with 10,328 votes in Cook and DuPage counties, according to unofficial results in all 158 precincts. Ramey trailed by 15 percentage points with 7,625 votes.
"It's unfortunate that this campaign came down to negativity and people bought into it," Ramey said. "I thought we presented a good case with what we stood for."
Pankau could not immediately be reached for comment but has said she is looking forward to a "very heated" race in November, when she will take on Villa Park Village President Tom Cullerton, who won a three-way race for the Democrat nomination.
The primary capped a hard-fought contest between Pankau, of Itasca, and Ramey, of Carol Stream.
The Republican lawmakers were sharply divided on key topics, from gambling and immigration to pension reform. They also sparred on a more personal level, with Ramey accusing his opponent of being ineffective in Springfield for nearly 20 years — and Pankau calling out Ramey about his recent DUI conviction in DuPage.
Ramey opted against running for re-election in the Illinois House and instead took his chances challenging Pankau after a new political map was created year. That set up the kind of showdown between two incumbent legislators that comes around just once a decade when political boundaries are redrawn.
Among the issues that separated them was the state's proposed gambling expansion, which Pankau supported and Ramey opposed. Pankau favored slot machines at horse racetracks like Arlington Park but didn't like the idea of a casino in Chicago; Ramey took the opposite positions.
On immigration, Ramey proposed an Arizona-style policy that would have illegal immigrants in state prisons deported more quickly. Pankau on the other hand saw Ramey's plan as unnecessary, saying it'd be better to step up enforcement of existing laws rather than create new ones.
The legislators also were divided on pension reform, with Ramey supporting a plan to force teachers and state workers to pay more to keep their existing pensions or opt for less-lucrative ones. Pankau opposed the plan, which Ramey argued would give teachers more say at the bargaining table.
Senate District 23 includes all or parts of Addison, Bartlett, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn, Glendale Heights, Hanover Park, Itasca, Lombard, Oakbrook Terrace, Roselle, Villa Park, Wayne, West Chicago and Wood Dale.
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