Dennis Robaugh contributed to this article
Keith Matune conceded defeat Wednesday evening following a close race in the Republican primary for the 81st Illinois House seat, according to a press release.
With all precincts reporting, unofficial results showed incumbent Ron Sandack at 6,753 votes to 6,600 for Keith Matune as of Wednesday morning.
With the slim margin of difference, Matune could have challenged the results of Tuesday's vote, which wouldn't have been official until provisional and grace-period ballots were counted within the next two weeks and a canvass has been completed.
Instead, Matune bowed out Wednesday and congratulated Sandack on his win, according to a Wednesday evening press release.
"This has been a particularly tough and public race," Matune said in the news release. "Both sides were passionate about supporting their candidate and that's a good thing, because we need people to become reengaged with their government and the democratic process."
Sandack was targeted by right-wing conservatives because of his vote in favor of gay marriage in Illinois last year. Matune, a Downers Grove District 99 school board member and a social studies teacher in Indian Prairie School District 204, positioned himself as the true conservative in the race.
The Washington Post called the 81st District race one of four things worth watching in Tuesday's primary.
In the weeks leading up to the primary, Sandack was targeted by a mailer featuring two men kissing that read: "You can kiss the GOP good-bye with officials who vote like Democrats."
Conservative political activist Dan Proft, through his Liberty Principles PAC, also hit 81st District voters with a mailer that featured a photo of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wearing a leotard. " Now we know where Ron Sandack learned how to dance," read the mailer. Proft's PAC spent $13,500 on Sandack attack ads, according to the Associated Press.
After signaling his support for marriage equality in May 2013, protesters turned out in force in front of his district office in Downers Grove and made it clear they would campaign against him. Sandack also at the time was nominated by his colleagues to run for chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, but he withdrew because of the furor over his marriage equality stance.
The candidates also traded blows over Matune’s arrest record as a college student.
No democrat challengers have filed for the seat, according to the Daily Herald.
"...I encourage all of us to come together to ensure that Mr. Sandack holds onto this seat for the Republican Party in November," Matune said in the news release.
Sandack, who served in the State Senate from 2010 to 2013, opted to leave the Senate because remapping put him into the same district as Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont). He chose instead to seek the 81st House District seat in the last election, which he won.
The 81st House District encompasses parts of Downers Grove, Woodridge, Naperville, Darien, Lisle, Westmont and Bolingbrook.