Hastings wins big in bid to be Democratic state Senate nominee
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org March 20, 2012 8:36PM
Illinois state Senate candidate Michael Hastings (right) receives a congratulatory hug from supporter Tom Nowinski at Hastings' campaign headquarters at Georgios Banquets in Orland Hills, Illinois, Tuesday, March 20, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 22, 2012 10:13AM
In a battle of two candidates with name recognition, a local school board member with military experience beat a longtime Tinley Park village trustee.
With 136 of 140 precincts reporting, Michael Hastings had 10,636 votes, or 77 percent, compared with 3,229 votes, or 23 percent, for Greg Hannon in the race for the Democratic nomination in the 19th state Senate district.
About 100 supporters welcomed Hastings with cheers at his victory party at Georgios in Orland Hills.
Entering the room to the strains of Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” Hastings hugged as many supporters as he could before delivering an emotional acceptance speech.
“We did it. It’s kind of awkward. I’m just a normal guy,” said Hastings, an Army veteran who served overseas.
One longtime Southland political figure said last week that Hastings’ military background could prove a difference-maker in the race. Hastings also had the support of U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush and Jesse Jackson Jr., and Orland Township supervisor Paul O’Grady.
Hannon was endorsed by Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki, who has served with Hannon on the board for several decades, and Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin.
Hastings’ voice cracked with emotion several times, notably when he thanked God and his family, saying “about five years ago, I didn’t think we were going to make it,” referring to a fierce battle in Iraq.
He is the son of Kyle Hastings, longtime mayor of Orland Hills.
Hastings said he’s overcome obstcles before.
“In high school, they told me I was too small, that I wasn’t going to make it,” said Hastings, who wound up playing football at West Point.
He credited volunteer campaign workers and many long hours spent walking door to door and talking with voters.
“I just want to say ‘thanks’ to everyone who believed in me,” Hastings said.
“This means a lot to me, but it’s not about me,” Hastings said, adding that his top priorities are taxes, jobs and education.
Down the street, at the Ashford House in Tinley Park, Hannon said he would support Hastings in November’s general election. He said he had hoped to do better in portions of the district east of Interstate 57 and in Tinley Park, but conceded Hastings’ youth and military experience may have made a difference.
“I’m happy with the way we ran our campaign. It’s a very humbling experience,” Hannon said.
He said he had run six times for trustee in Tinley Park and had never lost an election before.
“That’s politics. I can take it,” Hannon said, adding that the silver lining of not going to Springfield was that he could spend more time with his first grandchild.
Contributing: Bob Rakow