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Mitchell Declares Victory in 26th District, But Travis Refuses to Concede

By Sam Cholke | March 15, 2016 11:13pm
 Jay Travis was trying for a second time to unseat state Rep. Christian Mitchell in the 26th District.
Jay Travis was trying for a second time to unseat state Rep. Christian Mitchell in the 26th District.
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KENWOOD — State Rep. Christian Mitchell declared victory Tuesday night after holding onto a widening lead in the 26th District race after the polls closed.

Mitchell was running a tough race against Jay Travis, who was trying for a second time to unseat Mitchell after losing by a little more than 500 votes in 2014.

Late Tuesday night, Mitchell lead Travis 56 percent to 44 percent with 95 percent of precincts reporting.

Mitchell said he thought voters responded to the town halls he's held since taking office and his stance in Springfield on criminal justice, education and other issues.

"I think they're telling us to go back and continue this good work," Mitchell said.

Travis, who got major support from the Chicago Teachers Union, refused to concede late Tuesday night when eight precincts remained uncounted and she trailed Mitchell by more than 3,000 votes.

"I'd like to wait to find out the results of those precincts first," Travis said. "There were numerous reports of irregularities at the polls today."

Travis' campaign went into Tuesday confident that it had made enough inroads to make the race a toss-up.

In 2014, Travis lost to Mitchell by a little more than 500 votes. In that race, she initially refused to concede citing chicanery at the polls.

Mitchell lead Travis in the polls through much of the early evening Tuesday, prompting renewed feelings of anxiety among Travis campaign staff at Room 43, 1043 E. 43rd St.

It was a repeat of 2014 on Tuesday, with Travis’ campaign complaining that at multiple polls in the 26th District voters were given ballots for the 5th District race. Campaign workers also said they had called in the Illinois Attorney General’s Office about a campaign worker allegedly electioneering in the polling place.

Despite more help in the South Loop, where Travis was badly beaten in the district in 2014, and increased support from the teachers union, Travis ended Tuesday looking like she would have a worse showing than her last challenge to Mitchell.

Mitchell accounted for his improved victory saying he was now more familiar to voters.

"The longer you're in office the more people get to know you," Mitchell said.

He said it was his understanding that issues at polls in the district were minor and quickly resolved.

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