Rep. Sean Casten declares victory in Illinois 6th District
Democrat Sean Casten defeated a challenge from extremist Republican Keith Pekau in Tuesday’s Midterm election. Although Republicans were sweeping elections around the country taking control of the U.S. House from Democrats — and possibly taking control of the U.S. Senate although that has yet to be decided — Pekau was unable to muster the support her needed to win.
By Ray Hanania
With 97 percent of the vote reporting, U.S. Congressman Sean Casten (IL-06) declared victory in his re-election to the Illinois’ 6th Congressional district seat over rightwing challenger and Orland Park Mayor, Keith Pekau.
Despite a strong Republican vote surge across the nation pushed by the Midterm elections in which the party that holds the White House loses the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, Pekau, a Republican, was unable to unseat Casten, a Democrat, who has held the seat in the old 6th District for two terms. The two fought in the new 6th District which included parts of the old 3rd District.
For most of the evening, Pekau held a slight lead as votes were counted, and the two candidates often ran neck-and-neck with only a few hundreds votes separating them. But as the count continued and the evening went on, the votes for the two candidates separated quickly and Casten picked up more than 20,000 votes from the Cook County portion of the district.
With 98 percent of the votes tabulated, unofficial vote totals showed Casten held 54 percent or 142,686 votes compared to Pekau who trailed with only 46 percent or only 122,950 votes. Casten’s strong landslide victory over Pekau is a stark rejection of Pekau’s far rightwing extremist politics that dominated his political career which evolved after he became mayor of Orland Park in April 2017.
But after becoming Mayor, Pekau quickly proceeded to embrace a more radical agenda, personally attacking other community leaders and journalists and exaggerating his performance in office. Pekau also eliminated differing voices and consolidated the village into one-man control eliminating the village’s independent committees and often using his mayoral seat as a platform for his politics rather than addressing the village’s needs.
Pekau apparently failed to benefit from the Midterm election cycle in which the party that controls the White House, in this case Democrats, lose control of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate in a backlash political sweep. That Republican sweep however faltered at Pekau’s doorstep dashing his ambitions for higher office.
Pekau’s election defeat is a repudiation of his claimed leadership.
Casten, on the other hand, built up a coalition of supporters and a campaign based on consistent policies.
Rep. Sean Casten released the following statement after declaring victory around 10:30 PM on Tuesday evening:
“First and foremost, thank you. I ran for Congress in 2018 on the premise that there’s an awful lot more that unites us than divides us. That felt like a naive thing to say at the time. After all, the 6th District hadn’t voted for a Democrat in 50 years.
“In the conversations I had with folks across the district, I found a shared set of values. We believe in kindness and decency. We believe in science and democracy. We believe that women deserve the right to make their own health care decisions, and that we’re only as good as the world we leave behind to our children.
“The 2018 election was focused on playing defense against the division driven by the former president. In 2020, we worked to fix what was broken in our democracy and focused on recovering from massive economic collapse and a raging pandemic. And now, the 2022 election is about building on the foundation that we’ve created.
“Over the last two years, we’ve passed the single largest investment in climate action in United States history and the first meaningful gun reform bill in 30 years. We passed legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs and fix our roads and bridges. We’ve created millions of jobs and brought manufacturing back to the United States.
“Tonight, the people of the 6th District sent a resounding message that this is something we can build on.
“To all who helped make tonight possible—thank you. Every door you knocked, call you made, yard sign you put out, or postcard you sent propelled us to victory. You have a lot to be proud of, and you deserve to celebrate.
“To the voters—since 2018, you have given me a tremendous amount of trust to represent your values in Congress. For this, I am forever grateful.
Congressman Sean Casten’s bio:
As a scientist, clean energy entrepreneur and CEO, and now as a Member of Congress representing the western suburbs of Chicago, Congressman Sean Casten has dedicated his life to fighting climate change. Casten draws upon his previous private sector experience in Congress to craft market-based solutions to reduce emissions while creating jobs and spurring economic growth.
Casten serves on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and is the Vice Chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets. He also serves as Co-Chair on the New Democrat Coalition Climate Change Task Force.
Rep. Casten has a Master of Engineering Management and a Master of Science in Biochemical Engineering from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. While at Dartmouth, he did fundamental research in thermophilic fermentation technology to produce cellulosic ethanol and engineering analyses of integrated ethanol, heat, and power plants.
Casten worked as a clean energy consultant and manager at Arthur D. Little, then served as the president and CEO of Turbosteam Corporation, which focused on utilizing energy recycling technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by generating heat and power from previously wasted energy. In 2006, Casten co-founded Recycled Energy Development (RED), which focused on recycling wasted energy and converting energy facilities to cleaner, more economic uses.
Casten was a founding chairman of the Northeast CHP Initiative, a nonprofit advocacy organization with a mission to advance policies that favor energy efficiency in the Northeast United States.
While working diligently in Washington on behalf of Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, Rep. Casten is also committed to keeping in close contact with his constituents. To date, he has held over 50 town halls and over 400 community events.
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