Bill Sarto, a Democrat who lost in the primary race for Kane County chairman, said Rush Limbaugh is at least partly responsible for the March 20 result.
Sarto ran against Sue Klinkhamer, whom he said benefited from a backlash over comments the conservative radio commentator made about women and contraception.
“Sue Klinkhamer can probably give Rush Limbaugh an assist here,” Sarto said.
Limbaugh drew criticism when he made derogatory comments about a Georgetown University law student after she testified before Congressional Democrats about a private insurance mandate for contraceptives.
Sarto said he believed women went into the voting booths thinking “there’s a war on them" because of what Limbaugh said.
Klinkhamer, a former mayor from St. Charles, ran what she called an "anti-campaign." She hardly spent any money but she still defeated Sarto with 56 percent of the vote. She couldn't be reached for comment for this story.
Sarto pointed to figures complied by Geoffrey Petzel, a fellow Democrat who lost his primary race for the 6th Congressional District nomination last week, as a indicator of a potential trend. After speaking with Sarto and finding they both had similar outcomes, Petzel examined dozens of races in Kane, DuPage and Lake counties to see if there was something larger happening.
Petzel, who finished third in the primary behind two women, studied Democratic and Republican primaries in which a man was running against a woman in races at the federal, state, county and local levels.
Petzel said he found the Republican winners were nearly evenly split between the sexes—14 out of 30 contests were won by women. But on the Democratic side, the female candidate prevailed in the vast majority of the races—25 out of 28 primaries.
“I think the results probably shocked everybody," Petzel said. "Even the candidates that were expected to win won by a higher majority than they were seeing in the weeks before the election.”
Petzel said he intends to study more primaries of the suburban Chicago and downstate Illinois to see if his trend played out there.
Petzel's analysis fails to factor out primary contests involving incumbents. Five of eight incumbents in the contests Petzel studied were women.
Petzel and Sarto also were careful not to directly place blame on women voters for their losses. They described the suspected trend as one in which Democratic voters seemed to favored women instead of intentionally voting against men.
Maureen Yates, one of the two candidates who got more votes than Petzel, finished second in the 6th Congressional District Democratic primary behind another woman, Leslie Coolidge. Coolidge will face Republican incumbent Peter Roskam in November's general election.
Yates believes Petzel's figures could connect to a larger voting trend: a response to perceived attacks on women.
"If they continue to fight women’s rights, they are going to lose and they deserve to lose," she said.
A gender gap exists, particularly in Congress where women make up less than 20 percent. More women, according to Yates, are becoming involved in politics because of what conservatives like Limbaugh are saying.
"Women are waking up," Yates said.