Oak Park voters, who were among the earliest to embrace Barack Obama during his senatorial candidacy in 2004, gave Illinois’ junior senator a huge plurality in Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary. Obama outpolled Sen. Hillary Clinton nearly 4-to-1, garnering 13,187 votes to Clinton’s 3,433. Of the remaining candidates on the ballot, only Sen. John Edwards (154) got more than a hundred votes. Obama flirted with 90 per cent at two polling places as he swept all 58 Oak Park precincts, scoring no lower than 66.67 percent in any single precinct.
The turnout for Obama in River Forest was also impressive, if not as imposing, as he swept all 15 River Forest precincts, rolling up a 2½ to 1 advantage over Clinton. All others candidates were in double or single digits.
In the Republican primary, Arizona Senator John McCain tallied an expected strong plurality, nearly lapping former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in Oak Park, and doubling his vote total in River Forest. Oak Park gave former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee 250 votes.
Less than one percent of all voters asked for Green Party ballots, with more votes cast throughout suburban Cook County (729) for Water Reclamation Commissioner than for president (450).
State Senator Don Harmon (D-39), Obama’s former colleague, spent Tuesday night with state Rep. Deborah Graham (D-78) and a host of other Obama supporters, watching vote returns on television. Harmon is running uncontested for a four-year term. Graham defended her state house seat handily Tuesday, with approximately 82 percent of the vote against challenger Phyllis Logan, a West Side real estate agent and activist. Like Obama, Graham ran strong in all areas, including Oak Park, River Forest and Proviso townships and the City of Chicago.
Harmon admitted to being elated by the local support for Obama, but suggested that the campaign is far from over, calling Clinton “a formidable opponent.”
Harmon, who is awaiting word on whether he’ll be selected as a so-called “superdelegate” to the Democratic National Convention, said he’s ready to help Obama any way he can. He said he thinks Obama is running a smart and strong campaign.
“I think he’s doing very well. He’s continuing to do it the right way, appealing to people’s better instincts.”
Graham said she was keenly aware of witnessing something special.
“We’re on the brink of an important time,” she said. “We’re living history.” Obama, she said, has rekindled hope in people worn down by negative events.
“We kind of lost sight of what can be done,” she said. “He refueled all the dreams and aspirations.”
Graham said she was gratified by her primary win, though a bit surprised at the strength of her support. “I’m excited. I’m glad to see the voters were satisfied with my service.”