Gabel earns 70% of the vote in Illinois House District 18
For Robyn Gabel, it was more of the same. Much more.
The Evanston Democrat swept to a sixth straight victory in Tuesday's general election for Illinois House of Representatives District 18. She was first elected in 2010.
"I'm very appreciative of the voters and volunteers who helped me in this campaign," she said Wednesday. "I think I've been building my vote count over the years, so I think I'm a good representative of the people. And I work the district hard, and I represent them well."
By 8:43 p.m. Tuesday, less than two hours after polls closed in suburban Cook County, The Associated Press declared Gabel the winner over Independent Sean Matlis, a first-time candidate also from Evanston. Gabel said it was the first time she had run against an independent candidate.
After all 18th District precincts had reported their results, the unofficial totals showed Gabel won 70.14% of the vote, receiving 28,558 of the ballots cast to 12,156 for Matlis.
Those unofficial tallies also include early votes and many mail-in ballots. However, up to 152,662 mail-in ballots requested by voters in suburban Cook County could still be returned. Ballots postmarked by Tuesday will be counted if they arrive by Nov. 17.
Experience in Springfield is a real strength for Gabel.
The former executive director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition before she gained office, Gabel is chair of appropriations for the Illinois State House Human Services Committee and for the Legislative Green Caucus, and is vice-chair of the Energy and Environment Committee.
"We have a lot to do next year," she said.
"Due to the (COVID-19) pandemic there will be some serious budget issues, and there continue to be issues around people's safety, security, housing and food security," she said.
"It plans to be my priority to continue to address the effects of the pandemic in addition to issues I've been working on for awhile, like comprehensive clean energy. I'll also work with the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus on issues of racial equity," she said.
Tuesday's result is similar to Gabel's past five elections to represent the North Shore district on the banks of Lake Michigan. Her lowest percentage of victory was 62.8% in the 2012 general election against Republican Eric Lieberman.
Under the pandemic, this election cycle provided for "an awkward campaign," she said, nearly devoid of events and personal canvassing.
"I had to rely on my past activity in the district, which apparently paid off," Gabel said.