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

Conway was resoundingly defeated in today’s Democratic primary, scoring 16 percent of the vote to longtime incumbent Danny Davis’ 84 percent, with about 83 percent of precincts reporting.

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

“I’m disappointed at the apathy of the public,” he said. “No matter what the numbers are, they’re not real numbers. There are more people who didn’t vote than who 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 Tuesday night. The Austin resident said last year that his work felt unfinished in Congress, including his efforts to pass an anti-bullying bill that he sponsored, requiring states to track data on the prevalence of bullying and harassment at schools.

Conway said he’ll 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 grab in the neighborhood of 10,000 votes from the district, which stretches as far west as Hillside and as far east as Lake Michigan and includes both Oak Park and River Forest. 

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

CONTACT: marty@oakpark.com