Ventura appears headed for victory in state Senate race

Will County Board member holds big lead with 90% of votes counted; Republican contest neck-and-neck

Election 2024
Illinois 43rd  District State Senate Candidate Rachel Ventura  talks with Joliet Junior College trustee Alicia Morales during a watch party  Tuesday, June 28, 2022 ,at Vella's Tap in Joliet

Wlll Countt — Will County Board member Rachel Ventura appeared headed to victory in the Democratic primary for the 43rd Illinois Senate District race against Eric Mattson, who was put in the Senate seat mid-campaign.

Ventura had 57% of the vote with 90% of the ballots counted as of press time. She had 6,241 votes to Mattson’s 4,682.

Ventura had a lead in the same range all night, starting with the count of mail-in and early voting results reported when polls closed at 7 p.m.

Mattson, a Joliet firefighter, was appointed to the seat in May after incumbent John Connor unexpectedly resigned.

“I feel like I didn’t win against Eric Mattson,” Ventura said. “I won against a broken political system.”

Ventura said her apparent victory “lit a candle of hope in a time in politics when a lot of people are seeing darkness.”

The race for the 43rd Senate District is the one state legislative contest in the Joliet area that featured competitive races in both the Democratic and Republican primaries.

Ventura will run in November against either Diane Harris, a Joliet business owner and library board member, or Michelle Lee, a Joliet Junior College trustee from Shorewood.

Harris had 51% of the vote and a narrow lead of 109 votes in the Republican primary. With 10% of the vote to be counted, Harris had 4,073 votes to Lee’s 3,964.

The Republican contest was close all night, with both candidates receiving 836 votes from mail-in and early-voting ballots that were the first numbers released.

The Democratic primary saw an early spark of controversy when Ventura challenged Mattson’s nominating petitions, alleging that he had collected signatures fraudulently. The Illinois State Board of Elections, however, ruled in Mattson’s favor.

Mattson not only stayed on the ballot, but he became state senator of the 43rd District after Connor resigned from his seat, claiming family medical needs. Local Democrats put Mattson in the seat in May. Ventura did not apply, contending that the temporary seat should go to someone not in the race.

49th Senate District

Three Republicans are running for a spot on the November ballot to challenge Sen. Meg Loughran Cappel, D-Shorewood, for the 49th Senate District seat.

They are Stacey Keagle of Plainfield, James Lawson of Plainfield and Felicity Joy Solomon of Shorewood.

Keagle appeared headed for victory with 46% of the vote in the three-candidate race after 94% of the ballots were counted. She had 4,366 votes, Lawson had 3,678 and Solomon had 1,395.

Cappel, running for reelection to the seat she first won in 2020, did not face a primary challenge.

The district includes much of Plainfield as well as parts of Joliet, Crest Hill, Shorewood, Romeoville and Bolingbrook and stretches into Kendall County.

86th House District

Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, did not face a primary challenge in the 86th District, which includes much of Joliet and Rockdale, and parts of Shorewood, Channahon, Manhattan and Elwood.

Three candidates in the Republican primary looked for the party nomination to challenge Walsh. They are Scott Greene of Mahattan, James Lanham of Joliet and Dinora Ruiz of Joliet.

Greene had a big lead with 56% of the vote with 86% of ballots counted. The totals were Greene, 2,128; Lanham, 1,063; and Ruiz, 715.

98th House District

Rep. Natalie Manley, D-Joliet, will return as the Democratic candidate in the 98th House District.

She had 88% of the vote most of the night, and her margin over challenger Barry Maywood appeared to be widening as the last votes were counted.

The district includes parts of Bolingbrook, Crest Hill, Joliet, Plainfield and Romeoville.

No Republican is seeking the 98th House District seat.