2018 midterm results highlight counties', country's changing demographics

Thursday, November 8, 2018
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Female candidates won in unprecedented numbers in the 2018 midterm elections, which some analysts are referring to as a "pink wave."

There were a number of history-making wins in Tuesday's elections both in the Chicago area and across the country, showing how various constituencies' and the country's demographics are changing and that voters want leadership that is more representative.

Female candidates ride "pink wave" to victory

Female candidates won in unprecedented numbers in the 2018 midterm elections, which some analysts are referring to as a "pink wave."

Lauren Underwood made history in Illinois' 14th Congressional District, toppling Rep. Randy Hultgren and becoming the first woman and person of color to represent the district.

RELATED: Lauren Underwood thanks supports, will head to Washington after historic win

"Why do I think women won? Women are superheroes," she said. "The moms in the 14th District are literally superheroes."

Underwood wasn't alone. Across the country, more than 30 seats in the House of Representatives were claimed by women, Republican and Democrat alike.

Ayanna Pressley, originally from the Chicago area, beat a 10-term incumbent in Massachusetts to become the state's first African-American woman in Congress.

"I am so honored and humbled to share both the ballot and the stage with the many visionary bold women who have raised their hand to run for public office," she said.

Male politicians have said they're glad to welcome their female colleagues.

"They are becoming a major political force in the Democratic Party. I welcome it. I think it's a healthy development," said Senator Dick Durbin.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel shared his hope for how political discourse will change with more female leadership.

"The tone will be hopefully more civil, less about manhood and a lot more about getting things done," Emanuel said.

Now that there are more women in Congress, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said the next step is for them to acquire leadership roles.

"I want women to take ownership of traditionally not-as-highly-visible roles for them, and that's one of the ways they will change Congress," she said.

Several of the successful female candidates echoed similar statements in their speeches and conversations with the press following their wins, saying that their election to office is just the beginning and next will be to do the work for their communities.

Republican Party loses some strongholds in the Chicago suburbs

Northwest side Democrat Kevin Morrison made history Tuesday, becoming the youngest and first openly gay Cook County Board commissioner. The 28-year-old won his office by defeating the chair of the Illinois Republican Party, Tim Schneider.

"In three months we knocked on over 50,000 doors. I think that face-to-face contact made all the difference in the race," he said.

Schneider said it was more about finances than face-to-face time with voters, with Democrats outspending Republicans by $100 million.

"That was feathered into all kinds of races in the state, including my race where my opponent outspent me by at least $300,000," he said.

Illinois Republicans lost big on Tuesday. Besides losses in Peter Roskam's 6th district and Randy Hultgren's 14th district, some state House races not even in play were picked up by Democrats: The DuPage County Board lost five Republican seats.

While demographics are changing in traditional suburban Republican districts, Roskam admitted after his defeat that President Trump may have been a factor.

"The president is not popular in the 6th district, that's obvious, and I think there was some manifestation of that," he said.

Trump claimed Wednesday that Roskam lost because he didn't embrace Trump. Former Illinois Republican Party chairman Pat Brady doesn't buy it - he said Trump's rhetoric hurt Illinois Republicans.

"The sad thing is we have great job growth, we have great wage growth, we have a great economy, and if he would just put the Twitter away and be quiet for a while, Republicans would do a lot better," Brady said.

Brady believes Illinois Republicans need to appeal to a broader electorate, not just Donald Trump's base, in order to win future elections. But Schneider, the current party chairman, said the party can't just ignore downstate Republicans who support Trump. The challenge is to bring both factions of the party together.