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Obama wins Ill.; Dems pick up 4 US House seats

Associated Press Modified: November 7, 2012 at 1:45 am •  Published: November 7, 2012

Randy Yorke, who cast his ballot for Obama, said the president deserves another term.

"I'm much better off now than I was four years ago," said Yorke, 64, a lawyer from the Chicago suburb of Naperville. "The country's better off."

Jim Chmura, 67, of Oak Park, said he struggled with his decision right up until he punched his ticket for Romney, concluding he "could probably break through the gridlock" in Washington more easily to help improve the economy.

"It was not yes this one or yes that one," said Chmura, a semi-retired printing company manager who voted for Obama in 2008. "But I finally decided my biggest concern was the economy."

Some linked their votes for president with their picks for Congress.

Graham McNamee of Schaumburg said he voted for Romney and Walsh — a tea party favorite and fierce Obama critic who was first was elected in 2010 — because "the shifting of political ideals toward socialism scares me."

"We need Romney as president to get back to our democratic roots," said McNamee, 73.

Last week, Obama officially endorsed Walsh's opponent, Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, along with two other Democratic candidates running in the Chicago suburbs, Brad Schneider and Bill Foster.

Terry Mills, a 37-year-old wire transfer clerk from Hoffman Estates, said she voted for Obama and Duckworth.

"The middle class is most important right now ... (and) Obama knows what is right for the middle class," Mills said. Duckworth, she added, "really has what it takes to get things done. Her views on taxes are excellent."

Democrats retained control of the Illinois Legislature, where arguably the strangest legislative race involved expelled former Rep. Derrick Smith's bid for another term. The Chicago Democrat won his seat back despite being under indictment on federal bribery charges and being the first lawmaker in more than a century to be booted out of the House. Hoping to avoid embarrassment, party leaders were backing third-party candidate Lance Tyson.

Obama spent the day in Chicago and was to deliver a victory speech at his campaign's election-night party at the McCormick Place convention center.

The election season was quieter than usual in Illinois, with no statewide races on the ballot and Obama expected to easily win the state's 20 electoral votes. Yet Cook County Clerk David Orr, who is responsible for overseeing voting in suburban communities around Chicago, described turnout as "robust."

Illinois voters also rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have required a three-fifths vote, instead of a simple majority, for any public body to increase public pension benefits. Some voters found the proposed change confusing.

"It seemed like double talk to me," said Chmura, of Oak Park, who voted against it.


Associated Press writers Sophia Tareen and Michael Tarm contributed to this report.