Casten declares victory in 6th District Democratic showdown

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove was headed to victory Tuesday night in his bid to retain the Democratic nomination in Illinois' 6th Congressional District.

The Associated Press pronounced Casten, a two-term legislator, the victor only two hours after polls closed.

Across the political aisle, Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau was leading in the six-way race for the Republican nomination.

In the Democratic primary, with The Associated Press reporting that about 95% of votes had been counted, Casten was ahead with 42,768 votes, or 68% of the total, according to unofficial results. U.S. Rep. Marie Newman of La Grange was second with 18,102 votes and Chicagoan Charles Hughes was far behind with 1,969 votes, Those totals don't include all early, mailed or provisional ballots.

"Tonight, the people of the 6th District sent a resounding message," Casten said in a news release. "We have been given a mandate to continue our fight against the climate crisis, to end gun violence, to lower costs for families and to protect every woman's right to make her own health care decisions."

Newman called Casten to concede, she said in a news release. She pledged her support in the Nov. 8 general election.

"While this is not the result we wanted, know that we have to unite in November to keep this seat blue and protect our Democratic majority," Newman said in a news release.

The 6th District includes parts of Cook and DuPage counties. Newman now represents the 3rd District but opted to run in the 6th after boundaries were redrawn.

Newman's inclusion created the only Democratic congressional primary involving two incumbents in the state and one of the few in the nation.

Election Day came two weeks after the death of Casten's 17-year-old daughter, Gwen. He temporarily paused TV advertising and social media activity so he could grieve with his family.

As for the Republicans, with about 77% of votes counted, Pekau was in front with 19,313 votes, or about 39% of the total, according to The Associated Press. The two-term mayor touted accomplishments in that office and his U.S. Air Force service throughout the campaign.

Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso was second with 13,669 votes, followed by Oak Lawn resident Catherine A. O'Shea, Glen Ellyn resident Niki Conforti, Scott Kaspar of Orland Park and Rob Cruz of Oak Lawn.

Kaspar tried to ingratiate himself with former President Donald Trump during the campaign. Kaspar named disgraced former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik - a recipient of a Trump pardon - to a paid position on his team, and he was endorsed by former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.

But despite that support and visits by Kaspar to Trump-owned properties, the ex-president stayed out of the race.

Pekau, on the other hand, distanced himself from Trump and the conspiracy theories the ex-president spread about the 2020 election. Pekau also fought back against smear attempts from other candidates and from political groups that targeted his military and political service.

In a phone interview late Tuesday night, Pekau said he felt he got out the facts and told people "what I was about."

Keith Pekau
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.