Nygren's primary landslide doesn't discourage challengers

If McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren's landslide victory over Republican rival Zane Seipler in Tuesday night's GOP primary is intimidating or giving second thoughts to his challengers in the November election, they're doing a good job of hiding it.

Democrat Michael Mahon and Green Party candidate Gus Philpott both said Wednesday that rather than feeling deflated by Nygren's more than 2-to-1 victory margin, they have reason for optimism.

Mahon, a 23-year Cook County sheriff's deputy from Lake in the Hills, said that combining the 7,778 votes he received in his uncontested Democratic primary with the 7,924 Seipler garnered puts him within striking distance of the 16,942 collected by Nygren.

"I am obviously targeting the Zane Seipler voters," he said. "It shows me there are unhappy voters. I was encouraged by the numbers."

Nygren, dealing with his first electoral challenges since first winning office in 1998, collected 68 percent of the primary vote Tuesday to easily defeat Seipler, a deputy he fired in 2008 only to see the dismissal later overturned by an arbitrator.

Philpott, whose Woodstock Advocate blog frequently targets Nygren for criticism, said he is not concerned about Nygren's large margin of victory.

"I think the fact Zane got 32 percent of the vote is significant in that it shows that people out there want something different," he said. "I'm not discouraged at all."

A self-described traffic crusader and "problem magnet," Philpott's law enforcement experience is limited mostly to work he did as a volunteer reserve sheriff's deputy in Colorado.

He said that among the issues on which his campaign will focus is on what he sees as a lack of respect the sheriff's department shows for its employees, the public and inmates at its jail.

Mason said he is not ready yet to unveil his campaign platform, but indicated he would hit on some of the same themes as Seipler, including questions about the sheriff's two out-of-state homes and the number of lawsuits filed against the department in recent years.

"I'm running because of the performance of Sheriff Nygren," he said.