CHICAGO (AP) — An Illinois lawmaker facing a federal bribery charge has won the Democratic nomination for election to the House this fall.
With 69 percent of precincts counted Tuesday night, Derrick Smith of Chicago had 77 percent of the vote compared to 23 percent for challenger Tom Swiss, a former Republican activist.
Smith, who was appointed to his seat last spring, was charged with bribery last week after federal authorities claimed he accepted $7,000 in exchange for supporting what he thought was a day care center's state grant application. That breathed new hope into Swiss' campaign despite significant backing for Smith from House Speaker Michael Madigan's political arm.
Swiss said Tuesday night he was a victim of low turnout. He said highly motivated Democrats who were wary of Swiss' GOP past made up the bulk of primary voters.
Smith replaced Annazette Collins, D-Chicago, who filled a vacancy in the Senate. But in that primary race, Collins was losing to Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, 54 percent to 46 percent, with 71 percent of precincts counted in the district on Chicago's west side.
Legal problems played a role in other legislative races. Madigan funded another candidate, Sue Scherer from Decatur, in a primary race against Springfield Alderman Sam Cahnman and financed mail pieces slamming the alderman for alleged sexual misconduct, including an acquittal on soliciting prostitution.
The GOP joined in. Veteran Sen. Carole Pankau of Itasca used police video from opponent Randy Ramey's drunken-driving arrest to discredit him. Ramey, a Carol Stream representative, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
Census-driven redistricting directed by majority Democrats pitted other GOP incumbents against one another. Sens. Dave Syverson of Rockford and Christine Johnson of Shabbona squared off, and House members Chris Nybo of Elmhurst and Jason Barickman of Champaign were trying to unseat Sens. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale and Shane Cultra of Onarga, respectively.
Even Madigan, a House member for more than four decades, had a primary race that featured legal assistant Michele Piszczor, who forced the speaker to spend money on campaign literature.