Patrick Windhorst of Metropolis has defeated two other challengers Tuesday evening in the Republican race for state representative of the 118th District.
With 99 percent of the vote counted, Windhorst had a commanding 54 percent of the vote compared to his nearest challenger, Wes Sherrod of Harrisburg, who received 26 percent of the vote. Samuel Stratemeyer of Metropolis was in third with 20 percent of the vote.
The 118th District covers 11 counties in Southern Illinois, from Hamilton County to Alexander County.
"I'd like to thank all my supporters, friends and family for their hard work to make this night possible," Windhorst said. "Without them, I wouldn't win this primary. I am going to cherish this victory and maybe take a couple of days off and then get right back on the campaign trail."
The Massac County state's attorney since 2004, Windhorst said he is running for state office because he believes he can make a difference in Springfield.
"I made my decision to run mainly because of my family," he said. "I have a wife (Holly) and two young children (Lucy and Leo). I want my children and the people of my district to have a bright future. But we can't have that bright future if things stay the same in Springfield. The policies that have been set are holding us back. I want to be a part of change."
Sherrod said he has no regrets about running.
"We tried as hard as we could," he said. "My wife (Kirsha), kids (Brandon and Tiffany) and I ran the entire campaign. We just didn't have the funding to make it work. It was quite an education, though. I won't be running for public office again."
Sherrod said he wishes Windhorst well in the fall.
"Patrick's a great guy. We became friends during the campaign. When I conceded to him, I told him that I would help him any way that I could."
Windhorst said he believes his race is "winnable" and that his opponent, Natalie Phelps-Finnie, and her extended family (former congressman David Phelps and former state Rep. Brandon Phelps) have failed to bring positive change to the district.
"She supports Mike Madigan, and if elected, I will vote to replace him, because whoever is Speaker will have control over what is voted on in the House," Windhorst said. "The people of Southern Illinois feel left out down here. I think they're ready for a new direction in Springfield and I want to be part of that new direction."
Windhorst added that he first needs to improve his standing in Saline County, where Sherrod easily outdistanced him.
"It's important to have a good showing there in the fall. I will be spending a lot of time there between now and November."