CITY HALL — The alderman of the only Chicago ward to go for Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner in last week's election is not considering a switch to the Republican party — and doesn't necessarily think that's what his ward did, either.
According to final figures from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, the 42nd Ward was the only one to favor Republican Rauner in his campaign against incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. Rauner took in 7,909 votes, or 50.3 percent of the total, to top Quinn's 7,571, or 48.2 percent.
The contest was close in the 43rd Ward, just north in Lincoln Park, too. In that ward, Quinn edged Rauner 49.7 percent to 49.0 percent.
Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), who also serves as the Democratic committeeman in the Near North Side ward, blamed the Republican's top showing on the most recent ward remap. Reilly said the ward "lost over 30,000 people, and with it we lost some very Democratic precincts in the north end of the old ward."
Reilly was also quick to point out that, the governor's race aside, the ward continued to vote heavily Democratic.
"All the other Democrats performed generally the way they normally do," he added. "We saw a disproportionate number of ticket splitters in this election.
"Sen. [Dick] Durbin got I think 64 percent of the vote, Jesse White 69 percent" in his re-election bid as secretary of state, Reilly said. "So folks were making a conscious decision to split the ticket."
Reilly said he doesn't yet know what to make of that.
"We're not exactly sure what to attribute that to," he said. "But perhaps it had something to do with the campaign messaging."
What Reilly does know is he's not concerned about a Republican groundswell in his own re-election bid in February.
"My polling numbers are very strong," he said. "And I enjoy support from Republicans and Democrats."
Republicans don't appear to see the 42nd Ward as the soft underbelly of Democratic Party politics in the city, either. Chris Cleveland, vice chairman of the Chicago Republican Party, said he doesn't know of any Republican planning to challenge Reilly in February's municipal election.
Reilly swept Ald. Burt Natarus out of office in 2007, and he won re-election unopposed in 2011, amassing 15,893 votes.
Reilly too said he wasn't aware of any Republican challengers.
"There are rumors that I may have an opponent," he said. "But we'll find out in a couple weeks."
Candidates submit their petitions to the board of elections to get on the ballot starting Monday, with the process closing at the end of business Nov. 24. The February election is for all candidates from all parties, but if no one amasses 50 percent of the vote in a race, the top two candidates go to a runoff in April.
In the 43rd Ward, the close loss was considered by Chris Cleveland, 43rd Ward Republican Committeeman, as "definitely a big win."
"It means that we are no longer a junior partner in this ward," Cleveland said. "This means that people no longer need to be afraid to run as capital "R" Republicans," he said.
Citywide, 20.8 percent of voters cast a ballot for Rauner, while 77.2 voted for Quinn.
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