Davis dominates rival to keep U.S. House seat

Jacques Conway grabs just 16 percent of the vote in two-person race

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By MARTY STEMPNIAK

Updated 3/21/2012 4:00 p.m.

It's Davis again for the 7th Congressional District.

The longtime incumbent carried 84 percent of the vote, with about 83 percent of precincts reporting late Tuesday in the March 20 Primary.

His opponent, Maywood pastor Jacques Conway, snared 16 percent in the vote in his first run at a national political office. Davis was unreachable by phone Tuesday night. In a phone interview with Conway, the 49-year-old expressed concern about the election's low turnout.

"I'm disappointed at the apathy of the public," he said. "No matter what the numbers are, they're not real numbers. There are more people who didn't vote than who did vote. It's not a mandate from the public."

Conway, who lives in River Forest, wanted to see if he could step in with the big boys of the U.S. Congress, but one of the biggest, Davis, stopped him on Tuesday. Conway is a former Oak Park police officer and current pastor of Neighborhood United Methodist Church in Maywood. His elected office experience includes sitting on the high school board and park district board in Oak Park.

He joined the race hoping to reform education at a national level and bring a fresh face to the U.S. House. But with voter turnout hovering around 20 percent in the county, the electorate seemed to just let out a big yawn Tuesday, Conway said.

Davis, 70, meanwhile, will continue in the 7th District seat he's held since 1997. The Austin resident has said that his work feels unfinished in Congress, including his efforts to pass an anti-bullying bill he's sponsored. The measure would require states to track data on the prevalence of bullying and harassment at schools.

Conway said he'll next focus his efforts on trying to bring apathetic voters out to the polls in November to help re-elect President Barack Obama. He also wants to push for term limits to avoid having the same congressman for 15 years, like his opponent. Conway said he plans to run for Congress again and was happy to roughly 10,000 votes from the district, which stretches as far west as Hillside and as far east as Lake Michigan and includes both Oak Park and River Forest.

"If I see things the same as they have been, I'll get right back in," he said. "Big boys don't scare me."

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