State Sen. Bill Cunningham has Chicago voters to thank for returning him to Springfield.
The 18th District Democrat unofficially defeated challenger Shaun Murphy on Tuesday, 37,398 votes to 27,145 votes, with all but five precincts reporting.
Cunningham, however, found himself in a tight race in the suburban portion of the district.
Murphy, the Worth Township Republican committee, did well in the suburbs, garnering 21,932 votes, or 51.2 percent, to Cunningham’s 20,877, or 48.8 percent, according to unofficial results.
But the district’s heavily Democratic wards carried the day for Cunningham, where he collected more than 76 percent of the nearly 22,000 votes cast, according to unofficial results.
Murphy collected only 5,213 votes in the Chicago portion of the district, which includes the Mt. Greenwood, Beverly, Morgan Park and Auburn-Gresham neighborhoods.
Cunningham is a Beverly resident, while Murphy hails from Evergreen Park.
The suburban portion of the 18th District includes sections of Orland, Worth and Palos townships.
Neither Cunningham nor Murphy could be reached for comment on Tuesday night.
Cunningham has spent the past four years in Springfield—two as a state representative and past two as a state senator.
During the campaign he touted his experience and efforts to end “business as usual” as a reason to be re-elected.
He added that the state’s pension crisis is one of the biggest challenges legislators face when they return to Springfield after the election
Murphy, who described himself as an independent-minded Republican, said the race would be an uphill battle. But he expressed confidence in his campaign, saying it was a grassroots effort that started several months ago.
A focus of his campaign was attacking Cunningham for not being his own man and instead taking his marching orders from House Speaker Michael Madigan and other party leaders when it comes to key votes.