‘Kindness and decency’: Casten defeats Pekau in 6th Congressional race

Election 2024
Congressman Sean Casten speaks during a press conference and interactive tour of the Lion Electric vehicle manufacturing facility. Monday, Mar. 21, 2022, in Joliet.

In what had been predicted to be a tight race, Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove defeated Republican challenger Keith Pekau for a third term Tuesday.

With 93% of ballots in the contest for Illinois’ 6th District seat counted, Casten was ahead of Orland Park’s Pekau 139,077 votes to 118,572, unofficial results showed. That gave Casten about 54% of the total.

Pekau called Casten to concede late Tuesday night, Casten spokesman Jacob Vurpillat said.

In a subsequent news release, Casten thanked voters and his volunteers.

“In the conversations I had with folks across the district, I found a shared set of values,” Casten said in the release. “We believe in kindness and decency. We believe in science and democracy. We believe that women deserve the right to make their own health care decisions, and that we’re only as good as the world we leave behind to our children.”

Casten’s showdown with Pekau came in a district that was radically redrawn and resulted in Casten facing U.S. Rep. Marie Newman of La Grange in the Democratic primary. Pekau, his town’s mayor, won a six-way GOP primary to face Casten.

Keith Pekau, Orland Park Mayor and candidate for Congress, speaks at the GOP rally at 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park on Monday.

The resulting matchup was tough, with Pekau hammering Casten and other Democrats on crime and the economy.

Casten, in turn, bashed Pekau for criticizing a planned drag bingo event for teens at the Downers Grove Public Library that eventually was canceled because of violent threats. Casten also repeatedly criticized Pekau for siding with – and accepting an award from – a suburban group called Awake Illinois that has opposed drag events and has made transphobic social media posts.

Pekau’s stance against the state’s masking and vaccination mandates during the COVID-19 crisis also drew Casten’s ire.

Casten was a much more proficient fundraiser. Through mid-October, Team Casten had collected more than $5 million and spent nearly $4.9 million. while Pekau had raised about $1.3 million and spent about $1.2 million.

The 6th District includes parts of Cook and DuPage counties.