Cooper leads Donnenwirth in race for Lake County coroner

  • Republican Howard Cooper, left, was leading Tuesday in the Lake County coroner's race against Democrat Michael Donnenwirth.

    Republican Howard Cooper, left, was leading Tuesday in the Lake County coroner's race against Democrat Michael Donnenwirth.

 
 
Updated 11/8/2016 11:05 PM

Twelve years of Democratic control of the Lake County coroner's office apparently ended Tuesday with the election of Republican Howard Cooper, a dentist from Bannockburn.

With all 415 precincts reporting, unofficial totals showed Cooper ahead of retired Waukegan police officer and former coroner's office investigator Michael Donnenwirth, 141,513 to 125,387.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Both were on the official ballot, but the race also features a wild card as incumbent Thomas Rudd, who had the backing of the county Democratic Party and ran a comprehensive write-in campaign. The sometimes controversial Rudd, narrowly won election as a Democrat in 2012. However, he withdrew from the primary and his bid to get on the general election ballot as an independent was rejected by courts.

Whether his bid will have a bearing on the final result won't be known for several days, as write-ins are counted manually and voters have options in other races as well.

Cooper, who ran unsuccessfully for the position in the 2012 primary, said during the campaign his experience in forensics was needed in the job and would be valuable. He has done dental identifications as part of disaster and mortuary response teams, including at ground zero in New York and after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

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