NILES — Republican state House Rep. Brad Paquette cruised to re-election Tuesday in the race for state rep. in the 78th District.
The final tally of results came in at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday showing Paquette with 28,484 votes and Democrat Dan VandenHeede with 16,301 votes.
Andrew Warner, of the Natural Law Party, garnered 638 votes. There were 70 write-ins.
This will be Paquette’s second term in the state House. He is a former Niles teacher.
Paquette, 33, said in a Facebook post to supporters Wednesday afternoon that serving as a state representative is the highest honor of his life.
“I will continue being a solid conservative legislator at the capitol with a consistent drive to find common ground with my colleagues across the aisle. Figuring out ways to get around the few issues where we disagree to collaborate on what is best for all is the most invigorating part of the role of state representative,” he wrote.
VandenHeede, a retired Dowagiac teacher, gave up his 20-year stint on the Niles City Council to run for this seat.
He wrote a statement to supporters on Facebook Wednesday morning: “I told myself all along that whatever happened I would wake up on Nov. 4 knowing I did everything I could, and I have. So many of you have given your all as well. Thank you to everyone for the incredible support through all of this – you kept me going and pushed me to work harder and do better myself.”
The 78th District includes the southern portion of Berrien County and the western portion of Cass County.