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Burke Faces Opposition, Narrowly Holds House Seat in 23rd District

State Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago) didn’t breathe easy until early Wednesday morning, when it became official that he had indeed held off Rudy Lozano, Jr. to secure his name on the November ballot.

It was the first time Burke had faced a challenge in a primary in nearly two decades of representing the 23rd House District in Southwest Chicago. Lozano, son of a slain Hispanic political activist, garnered nearly 45 percent of the vote to the lawmaker’s 50 percent, according to unofficial results.

Dick Simpson, head of the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said Tuesday before the polls closed that if the race was close, it would be a major statement indicating the machine’s strength weakening.

“If (Rudy) Lozano gets more than 40 percent of the vote, it would mean that (Dan) Burke can be defeated in a future election, if not the next election,” Simpson said. “It will mean the reform candidate can take back districts from the machine candidates. I see this race as a battle over the future of Latino politics.”

Lozano came close, willing 3,980 votes, while Burke had 4,414.

“The Latino population is growing at a rapid rate and is almost a third of the population in Chicago,” Simpson said. “This race will be a good indication about what the future of Chicago politics will look like and a tight race would be serious change in the future for machine candidates.”

Simpson said the 23rd District, a majority of which is in the 14th Ward, is over 70 percent Hispanic.

Burke hails from a powerful Irish family. His father, Joseph Burke, and brother, Edward, have served the 14th Ward in the Chicago City Council for a combined 55 years. Ald. Ed Burke is the longtime chair of the powerful Finance Committee and is married to Illinois Supreme Court 1st District Justice Anne Burke.

“This race has been entirely different for me,” Burke said in an interview just a day before Tuesday’s win. “In the past, if I voted I was elected. This is a new experience. I have ran a more than fair campaign. It has been a very positive experience, but I think I got what I anticipated.”

In addition to Lozano, there were two other Hispanic candidates in the race: Martin Meza-Zevala and Rene Diaz. These candidates kept a low profile, but may have taken some key votes away from Lozano. Meza-Zevala and Diaz combined received 5 percent of the vote.

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