Laesch holding out for absentee ballots

Candidate thinks 400-vote margin can be topped

Published: 2/7/2008 12:09 AM

John Laesch has been campaigning for three years and doesn't want to stop now.

Some absentee votes from Tuesday's primary election have yet to be tallied, he said Wednesday, and with less than 400 votes separating him and Bill Foster, it would be too early to concede the Democratic nomination in the 14th Congressional District.

"We are not conceding until all the votes are counted," said Laesch, the party's 2006 nominee who unsuccessfully challenged former U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert. "We will wait and see how it comes out. Stay tuned."

But realistically, it's unlikely Laesch will be able to close the gap. In Kane County, the most heavily populated election jurisdiction in the congressional district, there are just 114 Democratic absentee ballots that have yet to be received and counted. Election authorities have two weeks to count those votes, as long as they are postmarked on or before Tuesday.

And given that Foster earned 2,445 more votes than Laesch in Kane County, unofficially, it's unlikely a majority of those uncounted absentee ballots are marked for Laesch.

In Kendall and DeKalb counties, where Laesch beat Foster by nearly 20 percentage points, there are even fewer outstanding Democratic absentee ballots. DeKalb has yet to receive 27 Democratic absentee ballots and Kendall is waiting on about 35, according to both county clerks.

The election must be certified by Monday, according to a federal court agreement filed last month, but can be amended thereafter.

Laesch's campaign team also is scouring vote totals, precinct by precinct, checking for anomalies. It's unlikely he'll find any in Kane County that will change the outcome of the race, according to county Clerk Jack Cunningham.

"Every check that we've done ended up 100 percent the way it was before," Cunningham said.

Overall, Foster received 31,865 votes, unofficially, to Laesch's 31,500. Also running were Jotham Stein and Joe Serra, each of whom earned less than 6,000 votes.

Laesch did concede in the special election, where Foster's margin of victory was greater. Two primaries were held simultaneously to pick nominees to compete in two distinct races: Hastert's unexpired term and a separate 2-year term. Serra was the only Democratic candidate not to run in both elections.

Foster, meanwhile, declared victory in both races.

"We're running against Jim Oberweis in the special and we're looking forward to challenging Jim Oberweis in the fall," Foster campaign spokesman Andrew Dupuy said.