Few expected sparks to fly when Dan Patlak and Sean Morrison squared off in the Republican primary for the District 1 seat on the relatively obscure Cook County Board of Review.
But the race quickly became a raucous affair that galvanized the GOP faithful on opposite ends of the county and even spurred the state party chairman to take sides.
In the end, Patlak, a Wheeling resident and the incumbent in the race, prevailed, just as he had against the same opponent two years ago.
Unofficial vote totals show that with all 1,128 suburban precincts counted, Patlak received 57,797 votes (54 percent), while Morrison, a Palos Park business owner, received 49,323 votes (46 percent). Morrison did win a sliver of the district in Chicago, by an unofficial vote of 1,861 to 1,525. Overall, the percentages are similar to 2010, when Patlak got 53 percent of the vote.
"It was a tough campaign, the toughest one I've been in," Patlak said Tuesday night. "My opponent believed himself unconstrained by the truth, and that made things difficult."
Patlak said he'll now focus on the general election in November, when he'll run against Democrat Casey Thomas Griffin, who was unopposed in Tuesday's primary.
"I'm going to tout my experience and talk about my accomplishments. There's no reason to take any other approach," Patlak said.
The three-member board of review is the agency that hears property assessment appeals from residents and businesses. District 1 stretches from the Northwest corner of Cook County to the Southwest suburbs.
The primary race between Morrison and Patlak featured mudslinging from the very start, as Morrison tried to portray Patlak as a corrupt, "pay-to-play" board member and Patlak raised questions about Morrison's business practices and accused him of actually being a Democrat.
Though close observers of the race denied it, a rivalry between northern and southern Cook County seemed to drive the race. Morrison was supported by Republicans and Republican groups on the south end, including Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman of Orland Park, while Patlak earned the support of Republicans on the north end. Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois GOP, broke from his normal practice of remaining neutral in local races to support Patlak.
Morrison, combative throughout the race, struck a conciliatory tone Tuesday night, saying that he now plans to support Patlak's candidacy in the general election.
"The voters have spoken, and as a Republican, I think it's important that I support Dan as he moves forward," Morrison said.