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Sandack claims narrow victory over Matune

Challenger for District 81 seat concedes defeat

Candidates in the Illinois House District 81 race Ron Sandack (left) and Keith Matune check out election results during their separate election night parties Tuesday.
Candidates in the Illinois House District 81 race Ron Sandack (left) and Keith Matune check out election results during their separate election night parties Tuesday.

DOWNERS GROVE – Incumbent State Rep. Ron Sandack declared victory Wednesday over Keith Matune in Tuesday's Republican primary to keep his District 81 seat.

With all precincts reporting, Sandack has 6,753 votes to Matune's 6,600, a gap of 153 votes, according to the DuPage County Election Commission and the Will County Clerk websites.

Bob Saar, executive director of the DuPage County Election Commission, said only 46 provisional ballots and 61 absentee ballots remain uncounted in DuPage County.

"It was a ridiculously rough race," Sandack said Wednesday. "In many instances it was ugly, and it was made ugly by other outside groups and their mailers and their calls. I think voters were annoyed and in some instances confused and in other instances turned off. I don't know if substantive issues made it through all that noise."

Sandack was back in session Wednesday in Springfield, and said he did not get much sleep Tuesday night in what turned out to be a neck-and-neck race. Vote tallies were back-and-forth throughout Tuesday evening as precincts reported to the county, with both candidates leading by varying margins at different times.

Matune had the option to request a recount due to the tight margin of victory, but conceded defeat in press release Wednesday evening.

"This has been a particularly tough and public race," Matune said in his statement. "Both sides were passionate about supporting their candidate and that's a good thing, because we need people to become reengaged with their government and the democratic process.

"But this current race has come to an end and I want to congratulate Representative Sandack and his supporters for their dedication. Further, I encourage all of us to come together to ensure that Mr. Sandack holds onto this seat for the Republican Party in November."

Sandack said it was a relief to get back to policy in Springfield following the tough primary season.

"My priorities are as they were, and that's to try and fix the fiscal condition of the state," he said.

Sandack mentioned a new bill sponsored by himself and Rep. Dennis Reboletti that would prevent taxing bodies from raising property taxes when property values fall. Other priorities included pushing for term limits for state politicians and fighting any income tax hikes proposed by Democrats, he said.

Sandack, an attorney and the former mayor of Downers Grove, served in the Illinois Senate from 2010-13. Redistricting would have forced him to face Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno to keep that seat, so he instead ran for and won his current 81st House District seat.

Matune is a social studies teacher in Indian Prairie School District 204, and a member of the Downers Grove District 99 school board.

Matune positioned himself as the more conservative option to Sandack in interviews and campaign literature, specifically criticizing Sandack's vote in favor of gay marriage, and Sandack's votes to raise property taxes while mayor in Downers Grove.

The race gained some notoriety for campaign tactics used by both sides. Literature issued by Matune supporters against Sandack featured men embracing and other imagery directed at the gay marrage issue. Sandack supporters in the House Republican Organization released legal documents regarding three arrests of Matune when he was college-aged in the early 90s.

DuPage County Election Commission Executive Director Bob Saar said there are no automatic recounts in Illinois. But, if the losing candidate has as much as 95 percent as many votes as the winning candidate, they can file for a recount of up to 25 percent of the district's precincts, at a cost of $10 per precinct, he said.

Matune had 97.7 percent as many votes as Sandack.

If the results from that recount are compelling, the candidate can file the discovery results in court. A judge could then decide whether or not to order full recount.

All election results are unofficial until certified.

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