Election 2024: 4 takeaways from La Salle and Bureau counties primary election

Election 2024

Here are four takeaways from Tuesday’s primary election in La Salle and Bureau counties.

76th District state rep race still is too close to call

As of Tuesday, Amy “Murri” Briel, of Ottawa, held a slim lead of 279 votes over Cohen Barnes in a bid for the Democratic nomination for 76th District state representative and it was unclear if all of DeKalb County’s results had been tabulated. Even then, results are unofficial as mail-in ballots postmarked prior to Election Day still may arrive. Briel had 2,356 votes, compared to Barnes with 2,077 and Carolyn Zasada with 2,038.

The GOP primary between Liz Bishop, of Peru, and Crystal Loughran appeared more decisive. Bishop held a 3,168-1,561 votes lead. Bishop has declared victory, but results remain unofficial.

If the leads hold, the contest to succeed state Rep. Lance Yednock, D-Ottawa, could be a race between two La Salle County residents.

Brian Dose, Don Jensen to face off for La Salle County chairman

Incumbent La Salle County Board Chairman Don Jensen, R-Deer Park, and County Board Member Brian Dose, D-Ottawa, won decisively enough Tuesday in their respective primaries their opponents each conceded.

Dose registered 3,536 votes compared to 1,696 for Joe Oscepinski Jr. Jensen tallied 4,614 votes to 2,039 for Deborah Porter, of Streator.

Dose and Jensen will contest each other in the November general election.

Chris Balkema in good position to succeed state Sen. Tom Bennett

With no Democrat in the primary, Grundy County Board Chairman Chris Balkema emerged as the unofficial victor Tuesday night in the La Salle, Bureau, Putnam, Grundy, Marshall, Woodford, Tazewell, Livingston, McLean, Ford and Iroquois counties GOP primary.

The winner of the November general election will succeed state Sen. Tom Bennett, R-Gibson City, who is retiring. Balkema declared himself Tuesday’s victor. He had registered 10,999 votes to Jesse Faber’s 6,962; Mike Kirkton’s 2,173; and Susan Wynn Bence’s 1,784.

Turnout was the worst in a decade in La Salle County

With the presidential race all but set between Joe Biden and Donald Trump and no referenda on the ballot, 17.75% of La Salle County’s 71,557 registered voters took ballots.

Dating back to 2008, the next lowest turnout for a general primary election was 18.3% in 2014.

Even with the primary moved to June amid the pandemic in 2022, the general primary election drew a turnout of 19.28% registered voters.