Almost a decade ago, Democrats first made significant gains in Republican-dominated DuPage County with the election of two women.
State Rep. Deb Conroy and county board member Liz Chaplin won their seats in 2012.
Conroy is now running for the highest office in DuPage, and Chaplin has dropped out of the race. The state lawmaker from Villa Park has picked up Chaplin’s endorsement in her bid to become the first county board chairwoman in DuPage history.
“I want to see a good Democrat in that seat, not any Democrat, but a good Democrat in that seat, and I think Deb is the one,” Chaplin said.
Chaplin’s departure leaves Conroy in a Democratic primary contest against county board member Lynn LaPlante of Glen Ellyn.
Conroy has represented the 46th Illinois House District in the northeastern, Democratic-leaning portion of the county.
In a statement Wednesday, Conroy highlighted her legislative efforts. She chairs a mental health and addiction committee in the House, sponsoring a bill last year that requires insurance companies to cover mental health disorders.
“As a state representative, I have worked to pass legislation that eliminated unnecessary units of government, reducing cost for taxpayers; worked tirelessly to create a mental health care structure in Illinois; ensured children with autism on Medicaid can get the same access to ABA therapy as children with private insurance; negotiated and passed the strongest telehealth law in the country; and invested in our classrooms,” Conroy said.
Chaplin said she admires and respects Conroy’s work in Springfield. And the Downers Grove Democrat didn’t want to play the role of spoiler. If she had stayed in the race, Chaplin and Conroy “could steal votes from each other.”
“Talking with Deb, we really just thought that this would be the best way to move DuPage County forward and to get that seat,” Chaplin said. “A contested primary against Deb and I would do the party no good.”
Chaplin also pointed to personal reasons. She has a daughter getting married and a son graduating college. Her husband is retired. Chaplin will instead run for reelection to her District 2 seat on the county board.
Conroy, the best-financed candidate on the Democratic side, said she’s honored to have Chaplin’s support.
“Liz has a long and dedicated track record of service to our community,” Conroy said in her statement. “As a member of the DuPage County Board, Liz is a leader in advocating for sound fiscal policies and county government that puts our citizens first.”
LaPlante is serving her first term on the board. During a blue wave in the 2018 election, LaPlante came within 7,314 votes of unseating longtime Republican incumbent Dan Cronin from the chairmanship. The violist with the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic had no primary opponent that year.
“I strongly believe voters deserve a choice in this important race, and now there’s a clear contrast between my new direction for Democrats in DuPage, versus the old status quo way of doing things,” LaPlante said in a statement. “I very much look forward to sharing my vision with voters.”
The winner will face the GOP nominee in the November general election. Republican county board members Pete DiCianni and Greg Hart are vying to keep the seat in party hands. Cronin won’t seek a fourth term.