Ending what was a contentious and sometimes personal campaign, Lauren Turelli held off Mark Neerhof on Tuesday for the Republican nomination to the 58th State House seat, according to unofficial results.
With all precincts reporting, Turelli had 4,756 votes, or 53 percent, to Neerhof's 4,198.
"A win is a win," said Turelli of the close race.
Turelli, 40, has worked as a teacher and is a board member for Lake Forest Parks & Recreation, where she actually spent most of election night in a board meeting. She ran against retiring Democratic Rep. Karen May in 2010, receiving 43 percent of the vote.
This was Neerhof's first foray into politics. He is an obstetrician with NorthShore University Health System and an associate professor at the University of Chicago medical school.
His campaign accused Turelli of making false statements about her background, including claims on some online biographies that she graduated from Cambridge University. Turelli later corrected those errors and said she did not have control over where they appeared.
"A negative campaign doesn't help and it's unfortunate my opponent went so negative and personal," she said, calling Neerhof's tactics "deceitful."
"I tried to stay positive and talk about the issues all the time," Turelli added. "I have a feeling that is why he went as negative as he did, because he wasn't winning his argument on the issues."
If the results become official, Turelli will face Democrat Scott Drury, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, in November's general election to decide May's successor. Drury did not have a primary opponent.
Looking ahead to November, Turelli will try to turn what has long been a Democratically-held seat Republican and said she hopes the tough primary doesn't hurt her in the fall.
"It was a long, hard-fought race and I'm hopeful that as a party we can come together to win in November," she said. "That's always a concern when things are so difficult, but the issues in our state are so great that we need to move past that."
Turelli said she had not heard from Neerhof's campaign Tuesday night and several calls to Neerhof from the Daily Herald were not returned.
Turelli said she was also concerned about low turnout, but pleased to hear from so many supporters Tuesday and leading up to the election.
"It's been a heartwarming feeling to get calls from complete strangers with support, that's the most I could ask for," she said.
After redistricting, the 58th District is centered mostly in Lake County, covering parts of North Chicago, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Deerfield, Highland Park, Northbrook and Glencoe.