Lilly landslide in 78th state rep race
Updated: March 29, 2012 3:39PM
Incumbent Camille Lilly cruised to reelection against challenger Michael Nardello in the 78th District state representative race.
Unofficial vote totals said she took more than 77 percent of the vote: Lilly 5,558; Nardello, 1,654 (with 54 of 55 precincts reporting as of press time).
Nardello had expressed belief that Oak Park would be a “battleground” in a competitive race. But the battle was decidedly one-sided. The results echoed Nardello’s 2006 campaign against State Sen. Don Harmon in the 39th Senate District race primary, in which he garnered only 21 percent of the vote.
Nardello, a City of Chicago administrator, touted his budgeting expertise and independence from the House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Democratic machine. He said Illinois’s problems can only be solved with independent people unafraid to buck the powerful interests in Springfield.
Lilly, a hospital administrator, made no secret of her close political affiliation with her state senator, Harmon, who is widely respected in Oak Park and throughout his west suburban district.
In the end Harmon’s strong support and Madigan’s money were far stronger than any winds of change Nardello sought to bring.
The gap in campaign funding was on par with the vote spread, as Nardello was outspent by Lilly at least a 3-1 margin. The last 20 days of the race Lilly got more funding than Nardello did the entire campaign.
In a one-week period between March 9-16, Lilly took in $50,170, with the heaviest funding coming from the Health Care Council of Illinois PAC ($19,126) and Madigan’s Democratic Majority PAC ($10,543). Madigan funneled another $10,660 the previous week.
The cash paid for more than a dozen mailings, robo-calls, phone banks and polling for Lilly, as well as a paid staffer.
While state board of elections records available online show Lilly has taken in around $110,000, Nardello’s campaign manager, K.L. Daley said the final figure will be much more.
Nardello was unavailable for comment Tuesday night. Daley said the experience “does not sit easy with me.”
She noted problems at least 11 precincts in Oak Park, Franklin Park and the West Side, and said, “That’s a big percentage for a small state rep race.”