In a sweeping victory over her competitors, Toni Preckwinkle is the predicted winner of the Democratic nomination for Cook County Board President Tuesday, defeating incumbent Todd Stroger and positioning herself as his likely successor.
As of 9 p.m., Preckwinkle had 50 percent of votes--with more votes than Terrance O'Brien, Dorothy Brown and Stroger combined. Stroger was finishing last with 13 percent of votes as of 9 p.m.
"Today the people of Cook County have spoken with one voice," Preckwinkle said to her supporters around 9 p.m. "Their message is clear: Now is the time. Now is the time to repeal the Stroger sales tax. Now is the time to end patronage."
"With your help, I will be the president of the Cook County Board," Preckwinkle said, reminding supporters that the battle is not over yet.
Stroger took office in 2006. His father, John Stroger, who had served as Board President for the twelve years prior, suffered a stroke and resigned from office. The Cook County Democratic Committee chose the younger Stroger to replace him on the ballot in the '06 elections, and he won election in November of that year.
But Stroger passed a widely unpopular sales tax hike for Cook County, and vetoed its repeal by the board. That tax increase, coupled with some hiring scandals during his tenure, made him increasingly unpopular.
Preckwinkle emerged in recent weeks as the front-runner in a crowded field of Democrats looking to replace Stroger. An alderman from Chicago's 4th Ward, representing an area of the South Side that includes Hyde Park, she campaigned as a reformer who will attack corruption and, of course, repeal the Stroger sales tax. The race was tight for some time, with Preckwinkle and Stroger fighting Cook County Clerk of Court Dorothy Brown and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District President Terence O'Brien. But a poll taken ten days before the election gave Preckwinkle a strong lead, especially among suburban voters. She also received a number of endorsements late in the game.
Preckwinkle's win tonight makes it quite likely that she'll become the next County Board President. Chicago has been reliably Democratic for many years; in fact, the last Republican president of the Board was Richard Ogilvie in 1966. Preckwinkle will face off against predicted winner of the Republican nomination, Roger A. Keats.
Watch NBC Chicago video of Toni's victory speech here: