The highly competitive Democratic Primary race for the 8th District Illinois House seat between incumbent State Rep. Calvin Giles and challenger LaShawn Ford turned in favor of the challenger last Tuesday night.

Problems with new electronic voting machines delayed vote counts in several races from precincts across the state.

About an hour after polls closed Tuesday night, precinct counts were reported for the governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, and Cook County Board president races only.

But by 9:30 and with 12 precincts reporting, Ford led Giles 58.1 percent to 41.9 percent. Giles’ supporters at his West Side campaign headquarters went from cautious optimism to gloom as the precincts were reporting.

The early results signaled a victory for Ford, who campaigned aggressively against Giles. The third time was expected to be the charm for Ford, 33, hoping to pull the upset Tuesday night in winning the 8th District legislative House seat over Giles, a six-term incumbent.

Giles and Ford squared off for the 8th District seat twice before in 1998 and 2000. Giles, 44, bested Ford both times.

Ford predicted his victory would come in part due to the 2000 realignment of the 8th district, which covers Austin, and portions of Oak Park, Riverside, Forest Park and Berwyn.

A loss for Giles would bring an end to a one-time promising political career. Giles, nephew of former Chicago Ald. Percy Giles, was elected in 1993.

But the incumbent received criticism for failing to pay state fines over late filings of his campaign finance disclosure reports.

Giles was slapped with a $144,000 in fines by the Illinois State Board of Elections, a portion of the fines dating back to 2000. Giles settled the fines with state regulators in January to avoid being bounced from the March 21 Primary. Giles was also saddled with the label as a “do-nothing” politician for his low-key style and less-than-stellar legislative record.

Along with losing his seat, Giles would lose his chairmanship of the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee. Ford, a former Chicago schoolteacher and current Realtor, said education, HIV-AIDS prevention and awareness, and providing resources to ex-offenders would be his top issues for the district.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

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