Katie Stuart knew beating three-time incumbent Dwight Kay in the 112th House race wasn’t going to be easy.
More than $3 million had been pumped into the race, which featured negative campaigning by both sides with television ads that filled the local airwaves. In the end, Stuart, a political novice running for office for the first time, beat Kay by 1,668 votes.
Stuart carried 76 precincts in Madison County by 1,698 votes, which easily negated a 30-vote advantage Kay had in 14 St. Clair County precincts. Stuart finished with 51.6 percent of the 52,944 votes cast.
“I knew it would be a tough road,” Stuart said Tuesday night. “It’s always tough to go against against an incumbent and the longer they’re in office, the harder it is (to win).”
Kay had held his seat since 2011. He has been extremely critical of House Speaker Mike Madigan. Much of his advertising tied Stuart to Madigan’s political machine.
Stuart said her victory showed that “people are fed up in Illinois and knew we need things to change.”
Stuart, a 45-year-old math instructor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, took a sabbatical from her teaching job in order to focus on the campaign. She spent 10-hour days going door-to-door throughout the district, which covers all or parts of Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon and Collinsville. The district’s western boundary has an arm that reaches toward Granite City.
She covered as much of that ground as she could. Her first priority when she gets to Springfield will be to focus on school funding.
“We need to stand up for our schools and get them funded the way they need to be,” Stuart said. “We also need to take care of hard-working families.”
Attempts to reach Kay for comment on Tuesday night were not successful.
113th District (Hoffman-Ruocco)
In the 113th district, longtime incumbent Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, was on his way to a victory over lawyer Katherine Ruocco, R-Swansea, a Swansea Village Board member. Hoffman has represented metro-east districts in Springfield for the better part of 25 years. With all but three East St. Louis precincts reporting, Hoffman held a more than 6,000-vote lead. The 53-year-old Hoffman took in 59.1 percent of the vote with 26,440 votes. Ruocco had 18,308 votes.
111th District (Beiser-Babcock)
In the 111th district, incumbent Dan Beiser, D-Alton, held on to the seat he has held since 2004 with a nearly 2,500-vote win over Mike Babcock, R-Wood River, a Wood River Township Supervisor. Beiser finished with 52.6 percent of the 46,795 votes cast in Madison and Jersey counties. Though Beiser has held the seat since 2004, this year’s race was only the second time he has been challenged. Babcock finished with 22,180 votes in the 99-precinct district.
114th District (Romanik-Greenwood)
With Eddie Lee Jackson, D-East St. Louis, deciding not to seek re-election to the office he’s been in since 2009, it led to an open contest between radio host Bob Romanik, R-Belleville, and East St. Louis City Council member LaToya Greenwood, a Democrat.
With two outstanding precincts in St. Clair County yet to be tallied by midnight, the race was all but over. Greenwood appeared headed to victory thanks to an overwhelming advantage in East St. Louis. Greenwood took more than 80 percent of the vote in East St. Louis’ 25 precincts. She held a 310-vote lead with 17,207 votes to 16,897 for Romanik in the St. Clair County precincts that had reported before midnight.