By Bob Uphues
Elizabeth "Lisa" Hernandez, who has served as the state representative in the 24th District since 2007, survived a strong challenge by Berwyn resident Robert Reyes to remain the Democratic Party's nominee for the general election in November.
The March 20 primary election win essentially means Hernandez, a Cicero resident, will retain her seat in the Illinois House for another term.
There is no Republican candidate slated in the 24th District, which includes portions of Chicago's Southwest Side, Cicero, Berwyn, a sliver of Riverside along the BNSF tracks and a portion of Brookfield.
Unofficial vote totals, with all 61 precincts reporting, showed Hernandez taking 57.5 percent, or 6,219 votes, to Reyes' 4,578.
The win marked the end of a sometimes nasty campaign in which a former suburban political backer of Hernandez, Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero, threw his weight behind Reyes, a real estate professional.
The race was a repeat of the 2012 Democratic primary in the 24th District – when Reyes positioned himself as an outsider and Hernandez had the support of Lovero. Hernandez lost that backing in 2017, when she broke ranks and endorsed Berwyn City Council candidates from slate challenging Lovero's Democratic Citizens of Berwyn.
However, Hernandez had the backing of powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, whose political committees pumped thousands of dollars into her campaign.
Still, the loss of political support in Berwyn had some effect on the totals.
In 2012, Hernandez breezed to a win over Reyes and a third candidate, garnering 70 percent of the vote in the suburbs. Reyes took about 28 percent of the suburban total in 2012.
Back in 2012, Hernandez defeated Reyes by a comfortable margin of nearly 600 votes in Berwyn. Six years later, with the mayor swapping endorsements, it was Reyes who captured the majority in Berwyn, though only by a slim 60-vote margin.
Hernandez on March 20 carried every other suburban precinct she represents in her hometown of Cicero, Riverside, Brookfield and Stickney. She also won 55 percent of the votes in 24th District precincts in the city of Chicago.