Clinton squeaks past Sanders
Park Ridge native Hillary Clinton's campaign was dealt a bit of a psychological blow Tuesday as her projected victory over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders came down to the wire in her home state.
With more than 97 percent of precincts reporting late Tuesday, unofficial tallies showed Clinton leading Sanders with 50 percent of the vote to Sanders' 49 percent.
Despite Clinton's strong campaign organization, deep pockets and wide array of party leaders among her supporters, a growing sense of frustration with the party establishment helped Sanders pick up votes.
Clinton took early leads in suburban Cook and Lake counties. Sanders, meanwhile, had a strong showing in DuPage, Kane, McHenry and Will counties. He also exceeded expectations in Chicago, where he worked in recent days to erode Clinton's stronghold of black voters' support by tying her to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former chief of staff during her husband Bill Clinton's presidency.
Following Sanders' victory last week in Michigan, "we clearly knew it was tightening (in Illinois)," said Kevin Conlon, who organized Clinton's delegate slate. "We knew there was some momentum there but we had an awesome infrastructure that was laid over a year ago."
Illinois was one of five states that held primaries Tuesday. Clinton won Ohio, Florida and North Carolina. A race in Missouri was too close to call late Tuesday.
"We are moving closer to securing the Democratic Party nomination and winning this election in November," Clinton said during a Florida rally.
A narrow victory in Illinois could mean a virtual tie in the race to win elected delegates, though Clinton locked up the commitments of most of Illinois' party leaders known as superdelegates well ahead of Tuesday's primary.
Sanders' Illinois director, Clem Balanoff, called the suburbs "absolutely critical" to the campaign's strong showing in Illinois, with the campaign opening field offices in Lombard, Batavia and Waukegan in recent weeks.
For many suburban Democrats, the choice was a tough one -- between Clinton's depth of experience with foreign and domestic policy and a message of college and health care for all from Sanders.
Jim Hrycko, of Schaumburg, said he was torn but ultimately voted for Sanders. "He's going to be for the working class people of America. I like how he's going against corporations, and he's more for the common worker and common people," he said.
•Daily Herald Political Editor Mike Riopell and staff writer Mary Hansen contributed to this report.