Incumbent Karen Yarbrough is comfortably ahead of challenger Chris Welch in the race for 7th District State Representative. According to results from the Cook County Clerk’s office, Yarbrough had received just over 72 percent of the votes at 10 p.m., with just under 35 percent of precincts in the district reporting results so far.

“The state rep race is all over but the shouting–we have resoundingly won a re-election campaign, and Karen is going back to Springfield for a fourth term,” said Yarbrough spokesman Larry Shapiro. “[The results] are spread out enough and convincing enough that we’re comfortable. We haven’t lost a precinct yet, and that’s all over the district,” he said.

Yarbrough is also challenging Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore, a close political ally of Welch, for his spot as Proviso Township Democratic Commiteeman.

“We’re ahead on the commiteeman race but that one’s a little closer,” said Shapiro. Records showed Yarbrough with just over 59 percent of the vote in that race at 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Yarbrough, the former president of the Maywood Chamber of Commerce, was first elected in 2001. She chairs the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development and serves as vice chairperson of its Insurance Committee.

She has enjoyed strong support from Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives Michael J. Madigan, who has donated generously to her campaign and paid for literature bashing her opponent’s record.

Welch, an attorney with the law firm James J. Roche and Associates, currently serves as president of the Proviso High School District 209 Board of Education, and has criticized Yarbrough for a lack of visibility in local schools. During his campaign, he has promised to fight for increased school funding and push programs enhancing communication between school districts and law enforcement.

The issues, however, have become secondary in the race to ongoing allegations of unfair campaign practices, with both candidates being accused of either illegally placing yard signs or vandalizing those of the other candidate. Welch has also endured criticism for several campaign donations received from Dist. 209 contractors that he helped hire. 

Welch has not yet been returned calls from the Review seeking comment.

–Seth Stern