State Rep. Terri Bryant, once thought a vulnerable Statehouse Republican after she broke with Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2017 to end the historic budget impasse, cruised to a commanding victory Tuesday evening to hold onto her seat even as the governor lost his.
The Murphysboro Republican, facing an electoral rematch against 2016 Democratic opponent Marsha Griffin for the 115th District, declared victory shortly after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at a gathering with supporters at the Murphysboro Elks Club.
Bryant had garnered 61 percent of the vote with 96 percent of precincts reporting.
Looking forward, Bryant told supporters she planned to move ahead on issues including workers' compensation and property tax reform, as well as improved mental health treatment and new tools to combat opioid abuse in southern Illinois.
She also spoke highly of President Donald Trump, for whom she opened a rally late last month at the Southern Illinois Airport in Murphysboro.
"We're going to move into the next phase and take advantage of some of the deregulation we've seen with Trump ... We've got the greatest jobs president in the history of the United States right now, and we're going to be able to take advantage of that here in Illinois," Bryant said.
Two years ago, Bryant garnered about 57 percent of the vote against Griffin, a teacher and activist from Jonesboro. Griffin could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
First elected to the Statehouse in 2014 to succeed Mike Bost, Bryant's survival in 2018 was not a sure thing after she broke with Rauner last year to back a major state income tax increase and end the more than two-year state budget stalemate.
Bryant feared she would be "primaried" by someone even more conservative than herself. Indeed, she faced a primary challenge in March from Paul Jacobs, an optometrist and owner of Von Jakob Vineyard who tried to lay the nickname "Taxin' Terri" on her.
But Bryant successfully turned back Jacobs -- with the help of considerable financial support from state Republican organizations -- after convincing Illinois Republican leaders how hard the budget impasse was hitting southern Illinois.
Tuesday night, at the end of a long election cycle, Bryant said she was happy with the campaign she ran. She also congratulated Griffin for putting up a challenge.
"I'm humbled," Bryant said. "It looks like this win is going to be really big ... this has really been an exceptional campaign this time, and I'm really proud of the campaign we ran."
The 115th District takes in all or part of Jackson, Jefferson, Perry, Washington and Union counties.