The Illinois State Senate District 40 race ended in victory for incumbent Sen. Patrick Joyce, a Democrat from Essex, but his Republican opponent Eric Wallace, from Flossmoor, was not far behind in the polls.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday evening, Joyce was ahead by a slim margin in Kankakee County, with 20,116 votes (51.17 percent) out of 39,314 total votes. Wallace took in 19,198 votes (48.83 percent) in Kankakee County.
Wallace took the lead in Will and Grundy counties, but Joyce won by a sizable margin in Cook County.
The 40th District represents portions of Bradley, Bourbonnais, Kankakee, Peotone, Olympia Fields, Chicago Heights, Homewood, Flossmoor and University Park.
Joyce said Tuesday that he was not surprised that the race with Wallace turned out so close.
“The numbers were not far behind what I expected,” he said. “I thank my opponent for running a clean race, which you don’t see a lot nowadays on both sides.”
Joyce said his next priorities include continuing work to bring a natural gas pipeline to Pembroke Township, addressing the longtime needs of the Kankakee River and turning his attention to the state budget.
“I’m honored and humbled that the people of the 40th District had the trust in me to support me,” he said. “The hard work is ahead of us now.”
A Kankakee County farmer whose parents were both Illinois senators, Joyce assumed office on Nov. 8, 2019.
He was appointed to the seat following the resignation of Democratic senator Toi Hutchinson, who resigned to serve as senior adviser to the governor on cannabis control.
Wallace previously sought election to the U.S. House 2nd Congressional District in 2014 but was defeated by Democratic Incumbent Robin Kelly.
He said Tuesday that he was encouraged by the amount of support he received in the polls given the fact that his campaign did not have a lot of money, and the seat has been occupied by Democrats for the past decade.
“We were like the little campaign that could,” he joked.
It was also challenging to physically reach people with his campaign because of COVID-19 restrictions, he noted.
Wallace said he knew the campaign would be an uphill battle, but he will encourage his fellow party members to continue the fight for more Senate seats. He’s not yet sure if he’ll run for the office again in the future.