River Forest resident Jacques Conway wanted to see if he could play with the big boys in U.S. Congress, but the big boy stepped on him on Election Day.

Conway was resoundingly defeated in the March 20 Democratic Primary. Longtime incumbent Danny Davis got 84 percent of the vote total with all precincts reporting.

The 49-year-old local resident is a former Oak Park cop, former member of the high school board, and current minister in Maywood. He joined the congressional race, hoping to address education reform at the national level and bring a fresh face and new energy to the U.S. House. But with voter turnout hovering around 20 percent nationwide, the electorate seemed to just let out a big yawn last week, Conway said.

“I’m disappointed at the apathy of the public,” he said as votes were still being tallied on election night. “No matter what the numbers are, they’re not real numbers. There are more people who didn’t vote than did vote. It’s not a mandate from the public.”

Davis, a 70-year-old incumbent who has held the 7th District seat since 1997, could not be reached for comment last week. The Austin resident said last year that his work in Congress felt unfinished, including efforts to pass a bill he sponsored, requiring states to track data on the prevalence of bullying and harassment at schools.

Conway said he will next focus his efforts on trying to bring apathetic voters out to the polls in November to help re-elect President Barack Obama. He also wants to push for term limits to avoid having the same congressman for 15 years, like his opponent.

If things are still the same two years down the road, Conway said he plans to run for Congress again. He was happy to tally 10,477 votes in the district (compared to his opponent’s 57,091), which stretches as far west as Hillside and as far east as Lake Michigan and includes both Oak Park and River Forest. Since no Republicans filed to run in the primary, Davis likely will run unopposed in November’s general election.

“If I see things the same as they have been, I’ll get right back in,” Conway said. “Big boys don’t scare me.”

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