Morrison, Trevor await final ballots in tight 54th District race
Despite a last-week ad blitz focused on his letter of support for an accused child molester, GOP state Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine appears to have held on for a narrow victory in a once-reliable Republican district.
After a long election night, less than 500 votes on Wednesday separated eight-year incumbent Morrison from Democratic challenger and first-time candidate Maggie Trevor of Rolling Meadows in the race for the 54th House District seat. While all 77 precincts were counted, both campaigns on Wednesday were waiting on mail-in ballots to be tabulated over the coming days before declaring victory or conceding defeat.
But Morrison said he was "cautiously optimistic" he'd be able to hold on.
Vote tallies showed 21,613 votes for Morrison and 21,131 for Trevor, according to the unofficial returns.
It marked the closest race yet for Morrison, a fiscal and social conservative who was first elected in 2010 after defeating 12-year incumbent Suzanne Bassi in the 2010 GOP primary. He's faced a Democratic challenger every two years except in 2016, and has generally won by comfortable margins.
On Wednesday, Morrison wasn't willing to say what factors he believes led to such a close race.
"It's hard to determine at this point hours after the polls closed where different people lined up and why," he said.
Trevor, in a written statement, said she is hopeful the mail-in ballots turn out in her favor. But even if they don't, she wrote, "we have shown that Democratic candidates can be competitive in the Northwest suburbs, and that we've got a great group of people who are engaged and involved, and an invigorated Democratic organization here to help all our candidates succeed in the future."
Trevor's campaign hit the TV airwaves the week before the election with 30-second ads about Morrison's letter of support for Thomas Chantry, a Christian teacher and pastor convicted of aggravated assault for severely spanking children in Arizona. Morrison and Chantry taught at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights in the early 2000s, after Chantry arrived from Arizona.
Morrison wrote the three-sentence letter during Chantry's sentencing. But Morrison later retracted it, saying he wasn't aware of new, more serious charges prosecutors brought against Chantry for child molestation and abuse.
The 54th House District includes portions of Arlington Heights, Barrington, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and South Barrington.