Key Lake County races too early to concede, Republican incumbents say

  • Michael Nerheim, left, and Eric Rinehart, right, are candidates for Lake County state's attorney.

    Michael Nerheim, left, and Eric Rinehart, right, are candidates for Lake County state's attorney.

  • Jennifer Banek, left, and Howard Cooper, right, are candidates for Lake County coroner.

    Jennifer Banek, left, and Howard Cooper, right, are candidates for Lake County coroner.

 
 
Updated 11/9/2020 8:27 PM

Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim and Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper were trailing their opponents by thousands of votes Monday, but both said they would not concede victory with more than 40,000 ballots left to be counted.

"I wish the numbers were going in a different direction, but it's not over yet," Nerheim said.

 

Nerheim initially led Democratic challenger Eric Rinehart of Highwood 41,757 votes to 25,335 votes on election night when the results were mostly made up of ballots cast in person that day.

Since then, Lake County Clerk Robin O'Connor's office has processed tens of thousands of vote-by-mail ballots. Though O'Connor initially said she would provide updates on the ballot count only on Nov. 10 and Nov. 17, her office delivered updates late Saturday and late Sunday.

On Monday, Nerheim trailed with 139,749 votes to Rinehart's 144,108 votes in the unofficial tallies.

"I didn't claim victory when I was up, and I'm not ready to concede now," Nerheim said Monday.

Cooper trails Democratic challenger Jennifer Banek with 136,276 votes to her 146,533 votes after the update Sunday night.

"On the 17th we'll know who won," Cooper said, referring to Nov. 17, when the votes will be made official. "This is just how elections are, so it doesn't faze me."

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Lake County Chief Deputy Clerk Todd Govain said after Sunday's upload there were 42,401 vote-by-mail ballots left to count. He said there were 1,815 provisional ballots as well, along with a "couple thousand" mail-in ballots that were sent at the last minute and postmarked by Election Day.

Govain said he believes O'Connor intends to upload more vote counts at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Incumbent Democrats Circuit Court Clerk Erin Cartwright Weinstein and Recorder of Deeds Mary Ellen Vanderventer lead their races.

A blue wave in 2018 in Lake County gave Democrats a county board majority for the first time in county history. Democrats also were elected sheriff, clerk and treasurer.

If Cartwright Weinstein and Vanderventer's leads hold and Nerheim and Cooper lose, the sole Republican among the countywide elected officials will be Regional Schools Superintendent Roycealee Wood, who ran unopposed in 2018 and has served since 2002.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Nerheim said the state of the race might be clearer after the Tuesday update.

"I imagine that will tell the tale one way or another," Nerheim said.

Cooper said he would wait until Nov. 17 regardless.

"We'll know on the 17th and then we'll know what everybody's future is," Cooper said.

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