State Rep. Tony McCombie will return to Springfield for a second term in Illinois’ 71st House District after defeating Sterling Democrat Joan Padilla.
With all precincts reporting, McCombie won 58.72 percent of the vote and Padilla 41.28 percent, or 23,810 votes to 16,736.
Quickly labeled as a hard worker who wasn’t afraid to cross the aisle in her district’s best interest, McCombie quickly earned respect in the House. Her constituents apparently noticed.
“I have worked really hard the last couple of years and people know that I’ll fight like a bulldog in Springfield,” McCombie said. “I had a lot of volunteers who also worked hard, and a lot of support.”
The Savanna Republican and her challenger were unopposed in their respective March 20 primaries.
As a new lawmaker, McCombie immediately made it known that she wasn’t afraid to break from her party. Her pro-business voting record led to McCombie being named the Outstanding Freshman Representative by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, but she also remained a staunch supporter of organized labor.
McCombie made staying in touch with constituents a priority, often hosting “Coffee and Conversation” sessions with state Sen. Neil Anderson.
A real estate professional, McCombie is the former mayor of Savanna. She also served on the Savanna City Council. As a state lawmaker, her committee assignments have been concentrated in business, education and transportation.
The veto session starts next week, and having a new governor waiting in the wings could alter that process, but McCombie said her priorities will remain unchanged going forward.
“The biggest thing will be to bring forth a balanced budget and protect Illinois residents from tax increases,” she said.
Padilla, executive director at Home of Hope Cancer Wellness Center in Dixon, was a relative newcomer, with only an unsuccessful run for Whiteside County recorder on her political resume.
Padilla’s campaign was built on a disdain for party labels, saying they broke down lines of communication and sowed dysfunction in Springfield. As a candidate who didn’t consider herself a politician, she built her campaign on bringing a fresh message to voters hungry for one.
“I really think I did have a good message, but I probably needed more time to prepare and get a better grasp on the needs of the district,” Padilla said.
The challenger didn’t rule out the possibility of another House run.
“I feel so blessed to have had this experience, and I’ll see where I’m called to be, and you just might see me again,” Padilla said.
The 71st District includes eastern Rock Island County and parts of Henry, Whiteside, and Carroll counties.