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County sees more voters than expected

Posted on 3/16/2016, 6:00 AM

A few contested battles, including the Republican challenges in the U.S. presidential and congressional races, brought out just more than 35 percent of registered voters in Saline County.

It was more than officials expected for the Tuesday balloting, and the difference in vote percentages among candidates may have been a bit greater than expected.

By press time, with 27 of 28 Saline precincts counted, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had picked up just over 50 percent of the vote compared to Sen. Ted Cruz" 35 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich"s 7.9 percent.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who suspended his presidential run after the local polls closed, picked up about 4.5 percent of the tally.

The largest Republican spread was Saline County"s contribution to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus" defeat over GOP primary rival Kyle McCarter. Across the 15th District"s 33 counties, Shimkus easily defeated McCarter, with a decisive 76 percent of the vote in Saline County.

McCarter had hoped to take advantage of the voters" anti-incumbent feeling for congressional Republican"s to stop Shimkus from continuing his bid for an 11th term.

Shimkus had earned endorsements from Gov. Bruce Rauner as well as the U.S. Chamber, National Rifle Association and Illinois Farm Bureau.

McCarter won support from the conservative Club for Growth in one of the few races nationwide where the political action committee targeted a Republican incumbent. But it wasn"t enough.

Republicans dominated Democrats in number of voters in Saline County with a more than 65 percent GOP turnout (3,426 votes cast) in contrast to the less than 35 percent (1,802 votes cast) that the Democrats brought out to the polls.

On the Democrat side of the aisle, Saline County worked to give Sen. Bernie Sanders a win with more than 53 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton"s 42 percent. At press time, though, with 70 percent of the statewide vote in, Clinton was holding a 4-point lead over the Vermont senator.

In both U.S. Senate races, Democrat Tammy Duckworth made easy work of her party opponents with 84 percent of the Saline County vote. Likewise, the county helped Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk subdue rival James T. Marter by giving the senator a 2-1 (68 percent of the vote) push to his continued re-election effort.

The final tallies will be made available after the county completes its canvassing and County Clerk Kim Buchanan certifies the results and sends them off to Springfield. The county has up to four weeks to finalize the vote, state election officials said Tuesday.

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