“Lots of people in Park Ridge are not for Hillary, that’s for sure,” says Chris Aryan, who lives in the northwest suburb where Hillary Clinton grew up. “It’s tough to find a Democrat in Park Ridge.”
Clinton herself was not a Democrat during her Park Ridge years; in the 1964 election, she was a Goldwater Girl.
There’s a smattering of yard signs around Clinton’s childhood home at Elm and Wisner, but most advertise the candidacy of Mel Thillens, who’s running for state senator.
“Mel Thillens will do a fine job,” said Kathleen Barton Tuesday evening, at a Thillens party at the Harp and Fiddle, an Irish pub in downtown Park Ridge. “He’ll represent the local people in Park Ridge. He knows the community. He understands the concerns of voters.”
Barry Gale, another party attendee, wears buttons for Thillens and U.S. congressional candidate Bob Dold. But any sign of support for the Republican presidential candidate is conspicuously absent.
“I have nothing to say about the presidential race,” he says. “Nothing at all.”
It’s still early in the evening, the crowd is still relatively sober, and people are choosing their words carefully. But one man in a Trump hat sitting at the bar has no such restraint.
“I’m in Hillary’s hometown!” he yells. “I’m gonna stick it to her!”
You have to travel to the next town over, Des Plaines, in order to find a Democrat. The Maine Township Democrats gathered Tuesday in the party room of Club Casa, the sports bar at the Des Plaines Golf Club, in support of Laura Murphy, their own candidate for state senate.
Here, the TV is on, and television commenters are announcing more states for Donald Trump. But the mood at Club Casa is jubilant, because with 80 percent of the vote in, Murphy has a commanding lead.
“We want to concentrate on the positive,” says Pat Amato, who snuck outside for a smoke.
Around 10 PM, Murphy gives her victory speech, although Thillens has not yet conceded. She thanks her team and her family, who, she says, have not had a hot meal in months. She served a term in the state senate 18 years ago, and she’s excited to get back to Springfield.
“I want to get things done!” she says. “I expect a little compromise from the governor.”
State representative Marty Moylan also won his race Tuesday, handily defeating Don Gott and retaining his seat. (He also defeated Thillens two years ago.)
“We won because of the Trump effect,” he says. “People came out to vote against Trump and voted for us.” At the conclusion of Murphy’s victory speech, the two candidates stand together, hands linked and raised over their heads. “Murphy and Moylan!” Moylan yells.
The bartender yells last call, and guests begin to leave. Those who remain reluctantly turn their attention to the national election.
“I think it’s surprising how close everything is,” says Ted Milsap. “It’s almost like a Cubs game.”
But at least one Democrat, Sandy Deines, refuses to give into despair. She worked on the campaigns of not only Clinton and Murphy but also U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth and Cook County state’s attorney candidate Kim Foxx, both of whom won their races Tuesday.
“It was wonderful to make calls and have every name I said be a woman,” she says. “Anybody who voted Democrat voted for a woman. All these women came one right after the other.”
And of all the candidates she supported, three have won decisive victories.