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updated: 3/21/2012 1:16 AM

O'Donnell wins 28 Senate GOP primary over Smolinski

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  • Jim O'Donnell

    Jim O'Donnell

  • Gayle Smolinski

    Gayle Smolinski


Political newcomer and businessman Jim O'Donnell of Park Ridge beat 19-year Roselle Mayor Gayle Smolinski Tuesday in the Republican primary for the 28th Senate District.

Unofficial vote totals with 137 of 140 precincts in Cook and DuPage counties reporting show O'Donnell garnered 7,114 votes, a handy 9 percentage-point difference over Smolinski's 6,147 votes.

O'Donnell, 60, a chief financial officer who has never served in government, campaigned on repealing the state's 2011 income tax increase, creating a positive economic climate, and restoring integrity to government.

Smolinski, 59, was endorsed by many of her fellow suburban mayors and township supervisors, while O'Donnell had none.

O'Donnell said not being a career politician played in his favor.

"People are absolutely sick and tired of living in the most corrupt ... the most bankrupt state in the nation," O'Donnell said celebrating with 50 supporters at his campaign headquarters.

O'Donnell said he received a lot of grass roots support from the business community, raising about $120,000 for the campaign. He also knocked on a lot of doors, sent mailers and ran radio advertisements to gain name recognition, he said.

During the campaign, O'Donnell and Smolinski touted their personal experiences with making tough financial decisions in their private and public sector jobs, respectively.

O'Donnell will face incumbent state Sen. Dan Kotowski in November.

The newly drawn 28th District runs from Roselle east through Schaumburg, Elk Grove Village, Des Plaines, Rosemont and Park Ridge. It includes the 55th and 56th state House districts.

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