Pritchard to stay in Springfield

By Nina Gougis

As the hour drew near, State Rep. Bob Pritchard’s election celebration Tuesday began to look like less of a celebration.

Pritchard huddled around a computer screen with his campaign workers anxiously awaiting the latest information that would confirm his victory.

The call finally came at midnight from Democratic challenger Bob Brown to concede the race for Pritchard’s 57-percent victory for state representative.

Over the phone, Brown called it a good race, Pritchard said.

Campaign manager Emerson Wells said he was confident Pritchard would win and said the race was so close because both were strong candidates.

“They were both worthwhile and it’s a shame they had to go against each other,” Wells said. “But [Pritchard is] more qualified because he’s already been successful in the school board and County Board elections.”

Wells said Pritchard’s experience as a Hinckley school board member and a DeKalb County Board chairman helps him determine what DeKalb voters want.

This ability to relate to DeKalb voters, coupled with the ability to work effectively at the state level and pass effective legislation, has also been a primary factor in his success, said campaign worker Lori Meadows.

Pritchard was appointed by Republican party chairmen in LaSalle, DeKalb and Ogle counties in 2003 after former representative David Wirsing’s death during his sixth term in office.

Since then, Pritchard has been successful at fulfilling the high expectations that followed him when he took over, Meadows said.

“Representative Wirsing was widely respected and loved in this district,” Meadows said. “[Wirsing’s] were big shoes to step into, but he’s done it and it’s in his own right.”

Although he had to fulfill high expectations, Pritchard said he was never concerned that he was viewed as a fill-in candidate.

“I was appointed by officials who were elected by the citizens,” Pritchard said. “So I always considered myself someone who represents this district.”

Now that he is returning to Springfield, Pritchard said he plans to continue to fight for all of the things he’s fought for during his last term.

Such issues include increasing state funding for public and higher education, making progress on medical malpractice issues and helping DeKalb farmers, he said.