Republican Susan Loving Gravenhorst has jumped party lines and endorsed the Democrat running for her Lake County Board seat.
Gravenhorst, who will retire instead of seeking re-election to the District 13 seat she has held for 10 years, threw her support behind Sandra Hart in a letter to Republicans in the district serving parts of Lake Bluff, Gurnee, North Chicago and Waukegan.
Hart, 44, the current Lake Bluff Park District Board vice-president, is facing off against David Barkhausen, a 62-year-old Republican. Barkhausen is a Lake Bluff village trustee, who also served as an Illinois state senator from 1983 until 1996.
In the letter sent to Republican supporters, Gravenhorst said "As a lifelong Republican, I realize that it is unusual to support someone outside of the party. However, the Lake County Board has always worked in a nonpartisan manner to get the job done, and I strongly feel that Sandy Hart is the best person to represent our district."
Hart said she was honored to receive Gravenhorst's support, adding "I think it shows people that it's not about the party, but more about the candidate running for the office."
"She (Gravenhorst) is a well-respected, long-standing member of Lake Bluff and the 13th District," Hart said. "She has always worked in a bipartisan manner, and this shows she can see beyond party lines and endorse the person she feels is the best candidate."
Barkhausen said Gravenhorst's decision to endorse Hart is a personal attack after he considered running against her in the Republican primary two years ago.
"In the process, I expressed the opinion that it was time for her to retire," he said Thursday. "She was taking positions that were against the sentiment of the voters in her district, and because of it, many of her former supporters urged her not to run. I think she took it personally against me."
Gravenhorst said the decision to endorse Hart was not a personal attack on Barkhausen as much as she believes Hart is the best person for the job.
"I'm endorsing her because she is, by far, the better candidate," Gravenhorst said Thursday. "She has great qualifications, is very enthusiastic, very experienced and very good at doing her job. Sandy is an excellent person, and will be terrific when she's elected."
Bob Cook, Lake County Republican Party Chairman, said he is "disappointed" because Barkhausen has plenty of experience in politics.
"The fact that he's a former Illinois state senator and has a lot of experience makes him a great candidate," Cook said. "She can endorse whomever she wishes, but I do really believe we have the better candidate."