Briel declared 76th District state rep winner for Democratic nomination, AP

Briel’s victory sets up November showdown among La Salle County residents in redrawn district

Election 2024

State Rep. candidate Amy “Murri” Briel was biting her nails at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday as she trailed DeKalb Mayor Cohen Barnes by more than 300 votes with 97 precincts left to count in La Salle County.

The Ottawa resident and chief of staff for state Rep. Lance Yednock knew she had a potential vote boost coming, because the La Salle County Clerk’s Office records its early votes last, but she didn’t know if it would be enough. All night, she’d fallen behind Barnes and the other Democratic candidate, Carolyn “Morris” Zasada.

Within the next hour as those precincts were recorded, she had flipped her position, grabbing a nearly 300-vote lead from Barnes and finishing the night with a 279-vote lead. The Associated Press had even declared her the victor.

“I knew there was a big chunk waiting,” Briel said Wednesday morning. “I believe some counties upload their early votes and votes by mail first, but La Salle County it’s always last. It was a crazy night.”

Results are unofficial as mail-in ballots postmarked before Election Day still may arrive, but Briel has recorded 2,356 votes, compared to 2,077 for Barnes and 2,038 for DeKalb City Council Alderwoman Zasada.

According to the DeKalb County Clerk’s office, there are still 740 outstanding vote-by-mail ballots, including 41 returned but uncounted as of Wednesday and 699 not yet returned.

Briel said she has spoken with Zasada, who said in a social media post Wednesday she will support Briel in the November general election. Briel has not talked with Barnes yet but said she is confident the two will coalesce.

Barnes posted a statement to his campaign’s Facebook page Wednesday.

“This was an incredible experience and it was wonderful meeting so many new people along the way,” he said. “Thank you to everyone that supported me. It meant the world to me!”

Briel had left a joint campaign gathering Tuesday night with fellow Democrat Brian Dose, who received the most votes in his primary race for La Salle County board chairman, before the flip in votes.

“I was just waiting with anticipation,” Briel said. “It was nail-biting.”

The bid for the Republican nomination in the 76th District was the opposite. Liz Bishop of Peru held a decisive lead throughout the evening, garnering 3,168 votes to opponent Crystal Loughran’s 1,561.

Liz Bishop, Candidate for State Representative in the 76th District smiles as results come in on Tuesday, March 19, 2024 at the Right Spice in Peru.

If the unofficial vote tallies hold, it sets up a contest between two La Salle County residents in just the second election since the 76th District, which also includes eastern Bureau County, was redrawn to include DeKalb County.

The race for the 76th House District was the only state race in Illinois with both a Republican and Democratic primary. Tuesday’s primary marked the least competitive in Illinois in two decades, a data analysis by Capitol News Illinois showed. Nearly 9 in 10 state-level primaries gave voters no choice in candidates. State Rep. Yednock, D-Ottawa, chose not to seek reelection.

Briel said she is looking forward to continuing her campaign into November, focusing on more detailed policies, including looking at policy that will help move more federal funds into rural communities such as Ottawa, La Salle-Peru and DeKalb.

“I want to bring attention to some of the basic needs and some of what’s lacking in our rural communities,” Briel said. “I really get excited about policy. I’m a little bit of a policy wonk.”

On the Republican side, Bishop said she will champion tax reduction, inflation control, public safety enhancement and the protection of Second Amendment rights.

“This victory is not just mine but a reflection of our common values and the tireless efforts of everyone who supported our campaign,” Bishop said.

Bishop said she is focused on reaching out to a broader audience and continuing to speak with constituents in the 76th District.

“Our journey doesn’t end here,” Bishop said. “We’re on a mission to bring about tangible change and impactful leadership for our community.”