Rinehart beats Nerheim as another 'blue wave' washes over Lake County

Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim conceded victory Tuesday after the latest batch of processed votes put him further behind Democratic challenger Eric Rinehart.

“I think certainly the blue wave that's been hitting Lake County for the last couple election cycles was definitely a factor,” said Nerheim, a Gurnee Republican. “When you look at the top of the ticket to the bottom, Republicans just got wiped out.”

Democrats now lead in the races for four countywide elected offices and in seven of the eight Lake County Board district races on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Lake County Clerk Robin O'Connor said fewer than 9,000 vote-by-mail ballots have yet to be tabulated. She said that number didn't include provisional ballots or late-arriving ballots postmarked by Nov. 3. On Monday, Lake County Chief Deputy Clerk Todd Govain said there were 1,815 provisional ballots along with a “couple thousand” late-arriving mail-in ballots.

Rinehart, of Highwood, thanked Nerheim for his years of public service, for the race he ran, and for calling him and offering to help with the transition. He thanked voters for entrusting him with the office's responsibility.

“I want to ensure everyone, whether they voted for me or not, that my office will be transparent and will fight crime and racial injustice with a renewed sense of urgency,” Rinehart said Tuesday.

Nerheim, who took office in December 2012, initially led Rinehart 41,757 votes to 25,335 votes on election night when the results were mostly made up of ballots cast in person that day. Since then, O'Connor's office has processed tens of thousands of vote-by-mail ballots.

After the latest update at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nerheim trailed with 151,991 votes to Rinehart's 163,501 votes in the unofficial tallies.

The story is the same for nearly every other Republican running in Lake County races. Most were ahead initially before watching their leads vanish once the vote-by-mail ballots were processed.

Lauren Beth Gash, the chair of the Lake County Democrats, said the results show that voters in the area have rejected President Donald Trump and his “Republican enablers.”

“There was tremendous energy among Democrats this cycle and Donald Trump was one of the Democrats' best volunteer recruiters of all time,” Gash said.

In the race for Lake County coroner, Democratic challenger Jennifer Banek increased her lead over Republican incumbent Howard Cooper. Banek now has 165,875 votes to Cooper's 148,398. Cooper said Monday he's content to wait until Nov. 17 when the vote is made official before either conceding or declaring victory.

For the county board, incumbent Republican Linda Pedersen of District 1 was the only member of her party with a lead. She has 10,726 votes to challenger Chase Andrew Thomas' 5,770 votes.

In District 7, incumbent Steve Carlson conceded the race Tuesday to Carissa Casbon, a Democrat from Warren Township, who was leading 8,979 votes to 8,044.

“This election is over,” Carlson wrote on Facebook. “To put it simply, the tide was simply too great for me to overcome. I would like to thank those who have stuck with me over all the years and 12 elections. To serve for 18 years has been the honor of my life.”

Democratic incumbent Diane Hewitt of Waukegan had 8,722 votes to challenger Paul Christensen's 3,462 votes in District 2.

Republican incumbent Mike Rummel of Lake Forest trails Democrat Paras Parekh in District 12, 9,585 votes to 10,719.

Incumbent Democrat and county board Chair Sandy Hart of Lake Bluff had 7,203 votes to Republican Lauren Fleming's 4,985 in District 13.

District 16 incumbent Democrat Terry Wilke of Round Lake Beach tallied 5,720 votes to 4,074 for challenger John C. Frazier. Incumbent Democrat Marah Altenberg of Buffalo Grove, appointed in March to fill a vacancy, was leading with 9,757 votes to challenger Soojae Lee's 6,506 in a race to fill an unexpired 2-year term in District 20.

If Paxton, Rummel and Carlson lose, Democrats would hold a 15-6 majority on the county board.

A blue wave in 2018 gave Democrats a board majority for the first time in Lake County history. Democrats also were elected sheriff, clerk and treasurer.

Incumbent Democrats Circuit Court Clerk Erin Cartwright Weinstein and Recorder of Deeds Mary Ellen Vanderventer lead their races.

O'Connor said Tuesday evening she intends to update the vote count again at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Incoming Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart, a Highwood Democrat.
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