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Kyle McCarter
State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, is being challenged by Tim Dudley, a Democrat from Decatur, in the race for the seat in the Illinois Senate for the 51st District.

DECATUR — State Sen. Kyle McCarter laid claim to his seat Tuesday, pulling out a win against challenger Tim Dudley in one of the most expensive races in the Illinois General Assembly.

With most precincts reporting, McCarter held a commanding lead over Dudley late Tuesday, winning in some counties nearly 70 percent to 30 percent. With roughly 4,900 Bond County votes still uncertain and not included, McCarter garnered 39,531 votes to 24,968 votes for Dudley.

McCarter, a Republican from Lebanon, was appointed to fill the seat left vacant when former Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson of Greenville stepped down last year. Dudley, a Decatur Democrat and member of the Macon County Board, won the nomination to face McCarter after outspending his primary opponent 10 

to 1.

McCarter will now fill the remainder of Watson’s unexpired term. The seat will be up for election again in 2012.

Speaking at his campaign headquarters at the Decatur Club as numbers continued to pour in, McCarter said he felt confident in his victory. He said as expensive as his race became, he had expected it to be even more so.

“I think we’re going to find that this race could have cost twice as much,” McCarter said. “Being, at one point, the number one targeted (seat) in the state, I think this just shows that you can be successful by being straightforward with the voters.”

Though he said he didn’t want to appear proud, McCarter said he felt his campaign managed to stay mostly positive despite strong and well-funded opposition from Democrats.

“I think we responded in a way that a lot of other campaigns didn’t,” McCarter said. “When we were attacked personally, we didn’t counterattack. We stayed on the issues.”

McCarter expressed his thanks to his supporters and said he has come to better know Decatur as its new state senator.

Speaking at the Forum, Dudley said he had doubts about whether he would succeed but said he appreciated all the hard work done on his behalf.

“The thing I’m most proud of is all of our volunteers and staff,” Dudley said. “Even people I didn’t know were on the phones making calls for me, and that’s the most humbling part.”

Asked whether he would consider another run, Dudley said he’d more concerned about his duties on the Macon County Board.

“Right now, if we don’t make it, my main focus will be the county board,” Dudley said. “I’m going to make sure we have the services people need, we balance the budget and we keep living within our means.”


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