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Election 2018: 5 things to look for Tuesday night in La Salle County

Long vs. Yednock, Streator's form of government, county board and more

After the polls close at 7 p.m. tonight and The Times staff fills up on election night pizza, we'll be following results as they come in.

Here's the 5 things we'll be following closely.

1. The 76th District battleground

State Rep. Jerry Long, R-Streator, grabbed a seat in the State House for the GOP two years ago against Andy Skoog after Democrats had control of that seat for decades with Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, now the auditor general, and his father before that.

Lance Yednock, D-Ottawa, is trying to regain the seat for House Speaker Michael Madigan, who needs four more Democrats in the House to regain a supermajority, which makes it easier to overturn a gubernatorial veto. That seemingly will not play a factor as much if JB Pritzker is elected governor.

In what figured to be a race where hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent, the House Republican Organization withdrew its support from Long after allegations of harassment from one of his staffers. Long has since gained the support of the Republican organizations in each of the district's counties: La Salle, Bureau, Putnam and Livingston.

Seeing red: the Democratic party has funded Yednock, who said he will step down from his post as a International Operators Local 150 business representative if elected, with $443,301.27.

Results should start coming in from La Salle County between 8 and 9 p.m. While Putnam, Bureau and Livingston counties also factor in, La Salle County made up nearly 80 percent of the votes cast in the last race. Whoever wins La Salle County holds a big advantage.

Long tallied 50.6 percent of the votes the same election Donald Trump won big in the area, he lost by a little more than 300 against Mautino last midterm, despite winning La Salle County.

Times reporter Brent Bader will makes stops at Roamers in Streator to visit with Long's team and JJ's in Ottawa

2. The Streator form of government referendum

This will be a big vote in determining Streator's future. If a majority of yes votes are cast, it will result in no change, but a majority of no votes will push Streator to the commission form of government in April.

That also means all five council seats will be opened up for the April election. The duties of the council will change. They'll be in charge of setting policy and managing city departments.

At the first regular meeting after the April election, the council designates each member to be either the commissioner of accounts and finances, public health and safety, streets and public improvements, or public property. 

3. Will there be a local blue wave?

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, is expected to win in the 16th District, according to most political pundits. There were 65,520 registered Republican voters in the district who cast ballots in the March primary compared to 41,663 registered Democrats.

"Most of the post-2016 results have suggested a swing to the Democrats coming up. I do think that this will be a rough midterm for House Republicans," said Brian J. Gaines, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for a Times article in August. "That said, the IL-16 is not in the top 25 or even 50 list for likely Democratic pickups.

"For them to lose IL-16 or IL-15, 2018 would have to be a wipeout well beyond the historically huge ones we've seen in recent history."

Still, we'll be interested to see how it breaks down, especially in La Salle County. Kinzinger has been supportive of Trump's presidency and Trump was popular here in 2016. This may gauge how strong the county's support is for Trump.

4. Will there be any new county board members?

We are guaranteed to have at least one new county board member in District 3 where David Zielke, R-Leland, is not running for re-election. Republican Kindra Pottinger is on the ballot against Democrat Beth Vercolio-Osmund, who ran for the Democratic nomination in the 16th District Congressional race.

Below are the other contested races with an asterisk marking the incumbent.

District 2: JoAnn McNally (R)* versus Joshua Witte (D)

District 6: Charles Borchsenius (R)* versus Susan Whalen (I)

District 10: Larry Butkus (R)* versus Joe Witczak (D)

District 14: Tina Busch (R)* versus Joseph J. Panzica Jr. (D)

District 22: Ernest M. Weiss (R)* versus Jerry Hicks (D)

District 27: Walter Roach (R)* versus Michele Hansen (D)

5. Will Republicans get shut out in Springfield?

Polls have Gov. Bruce Rauner behind by double digits against billionaire challenger JB Pritzker, but he has called the polls "baloney."

Democrats Susana Mendoza and Jesse White are favored for comptroller and secretary of state, respectively.

The attorney general's race figures to be the best chance for the GOP where Republican Erika Harold has said the race is for independence of the attorney general's office. She is facing Democratic State Sen. Kwame Raoul.

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