Sen. Dick Durbin won a fifth term over four challengers on Tuesday, NBC News projects.
Durbin, a Democrat from Springfield, won 55% of the state's vote with 40% of precincts reporting as of 9:45 p.m., election results showed. That equated to more than 1.3 million votes compared to second place finisher Mark Curran's more than 956,000 votes when NBC News projected Durbin to win.
“To those who supported my election: thank you for once again trusting me to represent you, your family and our home state of Illinois. It is an honor," Durbin said in a statement on his victory.
"And for those who were on the other side, thank you for your participation in our election. I pledge that I will listen honestly to your thoughts and work with you to bind the wounds of our nation," he continued.
“Now we have work to do to vanquish this virus and rebuild our broken economy. I am ready for the challenge," Durbin added.
Durbin, 75, was heavily favored to win, having won reelection each time by double-digit margins of victory each time he’s run – between 10 points (in 2014) and nearly 40 points (in 2008). He’s an attorney who served seven terms in the U.S. House before running for Senate.
He defeated four opponents this cycle: Republican Curran, Willie Wilson of the Willie Wilson Party, Green Party candidate David Black and Libertarian Danny Malouf.
Curran received 38.6% of the vote, Wilson 4.5%, Black .9% and Malouf 1.3% as of 9:50 p.m., early election results showed.
More than 500,000 mail ballots had not been returned by Monday, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections, though the totals from those ballots, should they arrive within the two-week period in which they can be counted, were not expected to impact the results of the race across the state.
While Illinoisans may know him as the state’s senior U.S. senator, Durbin plays a major role on the national stage as well. He serves as the Democratic Whip in the Senate, the party’s second in command in the chamber who’s tasked with rounding up votes, a role he’s held since 2005 – and could grow in prominence should Democrats take back the majority in the Senate this election.
Durbin is the fifth-most senior Democrat in the Senate and serves on the powerful Appropriations Committee, responsible for allocating federal funding, as well as on the Judiciary Committee – which garnered national attention with hearings on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
He’s a staunch supporter of the Affordable Care Act, a proponent of gun control measures and has long championed the DREAM Act to grant residency to immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors, among other policy positions closely aligned with the Democratic Party.
Curran is an attorney who served as Lake County Sheriff from 2006 – when he was elected as a Democrat, before switching parties in 2008 – through 2018. Curran emerged from a crowded Republican primary with four other candidates, all of whom expressed varying degrees of support for President Donald Trump, looking for a boost among the GOP base in March.
In announcing his candidacy, Curran took aim at Durbin’s lengthy time in office, calling him a “career politician” and “part of the status quo.” He’s firmly anti-abortion and has leaned into his support for Trump, at times echoing the president’s message of “law and order” and backing the confirmation of his recently announced Supreme Court nominee. He also attended one of the president's rallies in Wisconsin in October and was highlighted by Trump himself in his stump speech.
As a long shot candidate, Curran received relatively little support, monetary or otherwise, from the Republican Party – reporting roughly $150,000 in largely individual campaign contributions since 2019, compared to Durbin’s multimillion-dollar war chest, financial disclosures show.
Wilson previously ran for Chicago mayor in 2015, president in 2016 and then Chicago mayor again in 2019. Wilson is a millionaire businessman who owned several McDonald’s franchises and founded a medical supply company, in recent years using his personal wealth to fund his political campaigns.
In announcing his Senate run, Wilson said he believed Durbin “has taken the minority vote for granted” during his time in office, saying he contacted Durbin four years prior and never received a call back.
In his most recent run for mayor, Wilson came in fourth place out of 14 candidates on the ballot, earning just over 10%, nearly 60,000 votes, but failing to make the runoff election. This year, Chicago’s police union, three aldermen on the city’s Northwest Side and a group of suburban mayors all endorsed his Senate campaign, certainly making his third-party candidacy more interesting but ultimately proving not to decisively impact the dynamics of the race.
Black is a retired attorney who volunteers helping people seal or expunge their criminal records and ran for Illinois attorney general in 1996 and 2000, according to his website, which says he was running on a platform of universal health care, clean energy and 75% cuts to military spending, among other policy positions.
Danny Malouf is a human resources manager and volunteer youth wrestling coach whose platform included abolishing the Federal Reserve, isolationist foreign policy and “free market solutions” for both education and health care.
While Durbin cruised to victory over the four candidates, as ballots continue to trickle in, it will be interesting to see how the votes shake out in each part of the state and how they compare to Durbin’s victories in years past.