Keith Wheeler emerged as the clear choice Tuesday night, dominating a four-candidate race to become the Republican nominee for the 50th District state representative post in the November election.
According to unofficial results, Wheeler earned 5,820 votes in the GOP primary, more than the total combined from his opponents – 5,258.
Julie Cosimo was second with 1,994 votes; Beth Goncher received 1,842 votes; and Bill Keck got 1,422 votes.
Keck, of Sugar Grove, retired in December after 20 years as county auditor. He said he was "somewhat disappointed" to finish in fourth place. He said this would be his last attempt to run for office. He said he didn't have the resources to win the seat.
He said he wished Wheeler well.
"Our thoughts and philosophies are much the same," Keck said.
Wheeler advances to face Valerie Burd, a former mayor of Yorkville, in the November general election. The winner will earn the seat currently held by state Rep. Kay Hatcher, R-Yorkville, who is retiring.
Wheeler, an Oswego resident, said he was pleased with the results and said he was "flattered" to receive such a high total. He said the key was driving home the message of trying to help neighbors who are out of work and trying to attract businesses that could provide jobs.
"We never stopped talking about it," he said. "We were true to our roots when it comes to conservative issues."
Wheeler praised his opponents for running what he called "a clean race."
"It was respectful, and I think that's what people want," he said. "They want to talk about real things."
Burd said Wheeler's victory was "pretty predictable." She said she believes it sets up a race in the fall between two "very different candidates."
"I am a moderate, and he is very conservative," Burd said, adding "this will give the voters a clear choice."
She said she will have support from some Republicans, and she said there are some GOP voters who have said they will vote for her.
"People have told me privately that they like me as a candidate," she said.