In a close and hard-fought race, Barrington Hills financial consultant David McSweeney edged state Rep. Kent Gaffney and Tea Partyer Danielle Rowe in the three-way 52nd House District GOP primary.
With all 92 precincts reporting, unofficial results showed McSweeney ahead with 4,521 votes, or roughly 41 percent of the total. Gaffney had 3,806 votes, or 35 percent, and Rowe had 2,695 votes, or 24 percent.
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"I'm very happy and humbled and look forward to representing the people of the district as an independent conservative," McSweeney said. "I know people are hurting and want lower taxes and less spending."
The battle to win the 52nd District seat, which represents the Barrington area and parts of Cook, Lake, Kane and McHenry counties, ranked among the most expensive and contentious state races.
McSweeney, a former Palatine Township trustee who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2006, attempted to paint himself as the only true conservative in the race, saying he'd go farther than Gaffney with pension reform and budget cuts. He was the lead vote-getter in all four counties.
Lake Barrington's Gaffney, appointed last summer to fill the late Mark Beaubien's seat, served as the House Republicans' budget director for a decade. He recently slammed McSweeney for "going negative and running blatantly false campaign ads" that accused him of having a liberal record.
"We ran on the issues, even when there were many times we could have been different about it," Gaffney said. "But I wanted to stay positive and be able to look myself in the mirror. And I can."
Rowe, an Island Lake marketing executive making her first run at office, also denounced McSweeney's claims, pointing to her more conservative stances on social issues such as abortion.
The candidates as of earlier this month had drawn nearly $480,000 collectively in donations, ranking it the costliest House race and the third most expensive legislative contest overall, behind two suburban state Senate primaries, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform reported.
McSweeney got the ball rolling months ago when he began distributing the first of more than 20 campaign mailers last October.
He was the first to take to the TV airwaves and went negative in his second commercial.
The 52nd House District covers parts of Barrington, Island Lake, Oakwood Hills, Wauconda, North Barrington, Lake in the Hills, Fox River Grove, Trout Valley, Algonquin, Barrington Hills, South Barrington, Cary and Crystal Lake.