A controversial candidate won the GOP nomination in the March Primary for the 9th Congressional District seat.
Susanne Atanus received a total of 12,447 votes after all 338 precincts in Cook County reported in. The other GOP candidate, David Earl Williams III, received 12,012 votes.
Atanus appeared to have a larger turnout from Chicago than in the suburbs, with a nearly 1,000 votes from Chicago voters, according to election results.
“Indeed, a recount will happen,” said Williams in an email with The Bugle.
But pending a recount in favor of Williams, Atanus is the GOP candidate facing Democratic incumbent Jan Schakowsky in the November general election.
“I am very happy that I won the primary election,” Atanus told The Bugle the day after the primary. “I'm thankful for the voters that voted for me.”
Atanus, a 55-year old Niles resident, unsuccessfully ran to be the GOP’s candidate in 2010 and in 2012.
When told about Williams’ threat of a recount, she said he would not prevail because of his stance on economic issues.
“He didn’t have an idea for economic stimulus and wasn’t interested in raising the minimum wage,” said Atanus.
As for the higher turnout from Chicago-area voters, Atanus said it was a combination of her message resonating with them and her name recognition on the ballot.
Then turning her attention to Schakowsky, Atanus said the incumbent was a “nothing candidate.”
"Schakowsky is pro-gay rights and abortion, and that breeds HIV and AIDS," said Atanus
Atanus has repeatedly gone on record saying God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth in response to gay rights and legalized abortions.
Comments like these led GOP party leaders, including Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party Jack Dorgan, to say she had no place on the ballot as a Republican.
“Schakowsky is way out in left field,” said Atanus.
Williams, a 33-year old U.S. Navy veteran from Chicago, made the American Legion Hall in Morton Grove his headquarters the night of the primary.
He was attentively watching the race results come in on television the night of the primary, rarely taking his eyes off the screen for more than a few seconds.
Williams said that while he's worked for other campaigns in the past, watching the numbers was a "nerve wracking” experience as a first time candidate.
"I feel like I ran a good race," said Williams, before the final numbers came in. "But it's closer than I expected it to be."
Williams is no stranger to controversy himself.
At the beginning of February Williams survived a challenge to his nominating petition signatures before being endorsed by the Evanston and Niles Township Republican organizations.
Then in December of 2013, he had a domestic violence order of protection that was filed against him by a Washington, D.C., judge.
Williams’ ex-girlfriend filed the order against him and alleges he tried to have her fired from her job and kicked out of school by impersonating her online.
He denies the allegations and said the “order of protection nonsense” was being dealt with.
“There are people who really need those programs to protect themselves from an abusive offender,” said Williams. “It's sad that she had to go that far.”
Around 12:30 a.m. on March 19, after Williams appeared to lose the race, he issued a statement on his official Facebook page.
"It seems that Janice Schakowsky is attempting to pull a fast one with my primary election by sending her legion of supporters to vote for my primary opponent," said the statement. "What is wrong Jan, are you afraid of a real challenge? It seems like our favorite Congresscritter [sic] can't handle a true fighter on your side."
Atanus now hopes to win over the support of Republicans that threw in with Williams before the November general election.
"I'll be seeking the endorsement of the entire Republican party,” said Atanus. “I appreciate any support they can give me."
Niles Township Republican Committeeman Joe Hedrick said he was surprised by her win in the primary.
“I don't know what she did to get so many votes,” said Hedrick. “It was pretty much an invisible campaign.”
However, he said that unlike some of the surrounding townships, the Niles Township Republican Organization hadn’t completely written her off as a far right, unelectable candidate.
“We're at least courteous,” said Hedrick. “We're a little bit different from our surrounding neighbors, who were very much against her.”
As for Williams’ threat of a recount, he said there were two options available to him:
“There's a discovery recount Williams can do for no cost,” said Hedrick. “But after that, it becomes very expensive.
The Cook County Clerk’s website says a losing candidate who has election results totaling at least 95 percent of a winning candidate has a “statutory right to a discovery recount.”
He said Williams could pursue this option, which would allow him to recount about 20 percent of the precincts from the race.
“Generally, you pick the precincts where you feel you have the most chance of improving yourself,” said Hedrick.
Williams would have to pay $10 per each precinct he wants recounted. Hedrick said the next option would be a full recount, but that could become very expensive.
Additionally, he said going through and pulling a precinct’s votes to recount them for human error has become less of an issue thanks to the digitalization of the election process.
He also said that while there was a push for union votes in the Republican primary this year, he doesn’t think it affected this race.
The 9th Congressional District covers parts of Cook County.
It includes parts of Chicago, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Wilmette and Winnetka and Arlington Heights.
Democrat Jan Schakowsky has represented the district since January 1999