State Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid celebrates winning the Democratic primary in the 21st House District with Safaa Zarzour (left) and wife Fidaa, who holds their 1-month-old son Mohammad Zain, at Qamaria Yemeni Coffee Co. in Chicago Ridge. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

State Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid celebrates winning the Democratic primary in the 21st House District with Safaa Zarzour (left) and wife Fidaa, who holds their 1-month-old son Mohammad Zain, at Qamaria Yemeni Coffee Co. in Chicago Ridge. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Rashid rolls in 21st House, but Vasquez plans rematch

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Vidal Vasquez pours over election results at a club in Summit Tuesday night. “It’s not looking good,” he said at 8 p.m. regarding his eventual losing bid to win the Democratic primary in the 21st House District. 

By Steve Metsch

State Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid may have rolled to victory over challenger Vidal Vasquez in the 21st House District Democratic primary, but he took nothing for granted.

“I am humbled and honored that the voters chose to send me back and I look forward to continuing the work ahead of us,” he said Tuesday night.

Dozens of supporters crowded his victory party at the Qamaria Yemeni Coffee Co. in Chicago Ridge.

“First on my list is I’m going back to Springfield tomorrow to continue fighting for the district and for our working middle class families,” he said.

Rashid defeated challenger Vidal Vasquez, a retired Chicago police officer, in suburban precincts by 4,304, about 72 percent, to 1,638, about 28 percent.

In Chicago precincts that was reversed. Vasquez received 671 votes to 291 for Rashid.

“My opponent worked very hard and so did we,” Rashid said.

At 8 p.m. Tuesday, sitting with a handful of friends and supporters at the Clear Ridge Social & Athletic Club in Summit, Vasquez examined election results.

“It’s not looking good,” he said with a wry smile when he was hovering just over 30 percent of the vote.

However, even facing a big defeat, Vasquez’ spirits remain undaunted.

Vasquez plans to run against Rashid again in two years.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I believe in what I believe in. Even in a year from now, he still will not have enough experience.”

Told of a planned rematch, Rashid said, “okay, bring it on.”

Rashid said his goals of “better schools, protecting our environment and making sure our state budget is fiscally and socially responsible” resonated with voters.

“it’s very exciting, but I’m humbled more than anything else. The voters have spoken. We won in a landslide,” he said.

Asked about criticism from Vasquez that he’s not a familiar face in the district, Rashid said “the election results speak for themselves.”

He said he’s been working non-stop since his first election in 2020.

“We’ve been knocking on doors non-stop not only to share my vision but to also hear from people. A lot of it is pocketbook issues. People are worried about inflation, are concerned about property taxes, the quality of schools, the environment, reproductive health,” Rashid said.

Asked if he’s ready to start campaigning soon for a third term, Rashid said “one way to look at it is non-stop campaigning. Another way to look at it is non-stop engagement and listening. That’s something we should embrace.”

“I do welcome hearing from residents about issues they care about,” he added.

Supporter and attorney Safaa Zarzour, superintendent of the Universal School in Bridgeview and a member of the Oak Lawn High School District 229 board, said Rashid proved that his win in 2022 “was not a fluke.”

“He proved he is here to stay. And the Arab American community is coming of age. He represents the forefront of that,” Zarzour said.

“He’s a hard worker. … He knows how to bring everybody together,” Zarzour said.

Vasquez, who spent “under $10,000” on the campaign, was frustrated by Rashid’s challenges to his nominating petitions which, he said, delayed his campaigning.

As he expected, Vasquez did well with voters in the city of Chicago, but that represented only four precincts in the district.

Rashid put up big numbers in the suburbs.

Tom Montalvo, a friend since childhood, monitored election results as they rolled in and reported them to Vasquez.

“We did what we could with what we had. He was successful in delaying my campaign, challenging my petitions. That’s a strategy that’s tried and true,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez said he was encouraged Tuesday when, while visiting polling sites in Berwyn, Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside, several Republican voters told him that they had pulled a Democratic ballot “to vote for me.”

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