• Ben Szalinski
    JUN 27, 2022


    Primaries to watch on Tuesday: Candidates for governor, statewide offices, Congress, General Assembly square off

    Clockwise from the top left: Former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois John Milhiser, Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington), Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia), Nabeela Syed, Chelsea Laliberte Barnes, Rachel Ventura and Sen. Eric Mattson (D-Joliet) are some of the candidates facing competitive primaries Tuesday.

    Voters will head to the polls Tuesday to choose a Republican challenger to Gov. JB Pritzker, two new nominees for Secretary of State for the first time since 1998, new congressional nominees, a new Supreme Court justice and which lawmakers they want representing them in Springfield.

    Republican primary for governor 

    Ken Griffin dumped $50 million into supporting a slate of Republican candidates led by Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin. For much of the year, Irvin was assumed to be the front-runner in the race with Griffin’s financial support. But after months of saturating televisions with commercials and dodging questions from reporters, Irvin was quickly put on the defensive by the other Republican candidates running for governor. 

    During the last two months, polls showed Irvin drop from front-runner position in a close race to distant second and potentially third place in Tuesday’s contest with Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) now likely to claim the Republican nomination.  

    Bailey received $9 million of funding from Lake Forest billionaire Richard Uihlein and even more advertising support for his primary race from commercials and mailers paid for by Democratic organizations that painted him as “too conservative” to lead Illinois — a message that likely resonated with Republican voters.  

    Bailey is a farmer and first-term state senator who also served one term in the House. He quickly gained popularity with Republicans during the COVID-19 pandemic by challenging the state’s pandemic mitigations and refusing to wear a mask on the House floor in May 2020. With daily Facebook Live videos every morning, Bailey built a following as one of the state’s most conservative lawmakers.  

    Former President Donald Trump endorsed Bailey at an Adams County rally on Saturday. 

    Secretary of State primaries 

    Secretary of State Jesse White, 88, is not running for reelection after serving the state since 1999. His decision opened a rare opportunity for candidates in both parties to put their names on the wall of the state agency that interacts with the public the most.  

    On the Democratic side, Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia, former state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Chicago Ald. David Moore (17) are hoping to be White’s successor. Giannoulias and Valencia have a financial advantage in the race, and Valencia is endorsed by White and Pritzker.  

    The race has been full of drama between Valencia and Giannoulias. Giannoulias has skipped out on multiple forums while Valencia has labeled him a “failed banker” and attempted to portray him as a supporter of former President Donald Trump and an anti-abortion Democrat. Valencia, on the other hand, carries her own baggage into the race after reports surfaced earlier this year that she communicated with her husband, a lobbyist, about potential deals for his clients. 

    On the Republican side, longtime Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) has added up endorsements over former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois John Milhiser, who is a member of Irvin’s slate. Both candidates say their goal is to modernize the office and expedite services for residents. 

    Milhiser has focused much of his message on rooting out corruption, leading some to question why he isn’t running for attorney general instead. Milhiser explained to The Daily Line that ending Illinois’ history of corruption is an important way to restore trust to residents and improve their relationship with the secretary of state’s office.  

    Related: Milhiser, Brady pushing to modernize secretary of state in campaign between a slate candidate and long-time lawmaker 

    Promoted Event: The Press Box

    Supreme Court District 

    Four Republicans and three Democrats are fighting for their party’s nomination for an open seat in the Illinois Supreme Court’s 2nd District. 

    On the Democratic side, Lake County Judge Elizabeth Rochford (D-Lake Forest) has pulled away in the financial race and has been endorsed by multiple unions. She is being challenged by Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering and Kane County Judge Rene Cruz (D-Aurora). 

    On the Republican side, Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes (R-Mundelein) has accumulated a financial advantage over his Republican opponents. He is being challenged by former Lake County Sheriff and 2020 Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate Mark Curran (R-Libertyville), Kane County Judge John Noverini (R-Carpentersville) and Appellate Court Judge Susan Hutchinson (R-Crystal Lake).  

    Related: Cash flows into suburban Supreme Court race, but Griffin remans on sidelines 

    Citizens for Judicial Fairness, a Griffin-funded group that spearheaded the successful effort to remove Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride from the bench in 2020, has funded attack ads against Curran.  

    Congressional races 

    The most crowded primary in the state is in the 1st Congressional District, where 17 candidates are fighting for the Democratic nomination to succeed U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.). The race includes Sen. Jacqui Collins (D-Chicago); Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell (3); the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s son, Jonathan Jackson; Chicago activist Jahmal Cole; and former nonprofit leader Karin Norington-Reaves, who is backed by Rush. With so many candidates running, the race is likely up for grabs.  

    The 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary features four candidates, but Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) and Chicago Ald. Gil Villegas (36) have stood out. State lawmakers drew the district last year to create a Latino votingmajority that stretches from Chicago’s Northwest Side out to Elgin and Aurora. Ramirez is serving her second term in the Illinois House and has come out as the progressive candidate in the race with support from U.S. senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Villegas has been a Chicago alderman since 2015 and chairs the Chicago City Council’s Latino Caucus.  

    The 6th Congressional District Democratic primary features two incumbent members of Congress after U.S. Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.) of La Grange lost her district to the redistricting process and chose to run against U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) of Downers Grove. Newman is serving her first term in Congress and is portraying herself as the more progressive candidate in the race.  

    The 15th Congressional District Republican primary will test the power Trump’s endorsement. Trump hosted a rally Saturday supporting U.S. Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) over U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.). Miller is serving her first term that has been filed with controversies ranging from a speech quoting Adolf Hitler prior to the Jan. 6 insurrection to a report revealing a campaign aide was previously convicted of sexual assault charges against minors. Davis is a rising member of the U.S. House leadership team with support from many local officials and is not typically viewed as a moderate lawmaker. However, Davis has not embraced Trump’s stolen election theory like Miller has.  

    Democratic General Assembly races  

    After lawmakers completed redistricting in 2021, all 177 seats in the General Assembly are up for grabs.  

    The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police is trying to oust Sen. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) with a challenge from Chicago Police Officer Erin Jones and is similarly targeting Rep. Sonya Harper (D-Chicago) with a challenge from Chicago Police Officer Caroylnn Crump. 

    In the 12th Senate District, Sen. Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) is facing the first major test of her short political career with a challenge from Javier Yañez, who is chief of staff to Chicago Ald. Byron Sigcho Lopez (25). Yañez argues Villanueva has only advanced her career with help from former House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago), who helped appoint her to Senate.  

    Related: Villanueva distancing herself from Madigan as she faces primary challenge from the left 

    In the 31st Senate District, former Rep. Mary Edly-Allen (D-Libertyville) is trying to resurrect her political career with a win over Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake) after Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) decided not to run for reelection. Edly-Allen is endorsed by Bush and Pritzker.  

    Related: Edly-Allen hoping to revive political career with victory over former colleague in race for a Lake County Senate seat 

    In the 43rd Senate District, Illinois’ newest Sen. Eric Mattson (D-Joliet) is trying to fight off a challenge from Will County Board Member Rachel Ventura. Mattson was appointed to the Senate in May and is supported by unions and incumbent senators, but Ventura has mounted a campaign portraying herself as an establishment-bucking progressive candidate.  

    Related: Joliet Democrats wrapped up in tense primary battle for 43rd Senate seat 

    In the 13th House District, Eileen Dordek, Hoan Huynh, Sergio Mojica and Becky Levin are running to replace outgoing House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago). Harris, who joined the House in 2006 and rose to majority leader in 2019, has not made an endorsement in the race.  

    In the 15th House District, Michael Rabbitt is trying to unseat Rep. Mike Kelly (D-Chicago). Kelly was appointed to the House last December after former Rep. John D’Amico (D-Chicago) resigned and backed Kelly’s nomination. Rabbitt has criticized Kelly’s appointment, arguing it was an example of “machine” politics, while also raising questions about why Kelly previously voted in a pair of Republican primaries.  

    Related: Newest Rep. Mike Kelly attempting to fight off progressive primary challenge on Chicago’s NW side 

    In the 16th House District, Rep. Denyse Stoneback (D-Skokie) is being challenged by Kevin Olickal, a Loyola University law student who is one of several candidates backed by U.S. Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.). Stoneback previously defeated Olickal in the 2020 primary but has faced criticism this time around for hiring a former Evanston employee who was the subject of sexual misconduct complaints.  

    In the 19th House District, Rep. Lindsey LaPointe (D-Chicago) is trying to fend off a challenge from local real estate agent Tina Wallace. Wallace has been endorsed by the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police and has argued for more moderate positions while LaPointe runs as the more progressive candidate in the race.  

    Related: LaPointe battling Northwest Side business owner for second full term in Illinois House 

    In the 21st House District, Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Chicago) is being challenged by Abdelnasser Rashid, who has previous experience in government with Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s office. Zalewski serves as chair of the House Revenue and Finance Committee and had a hand in this year’s tax relief plan. However, Rashid is arguing it’s time for a new face and has tried linking Zalewski to the Madigan investigation. Zalewski’s father, former Chicago Ald. Mike Zalewski (23), was implicated in the investigation but has not been charged. Rashid has also argued he’s a more pro-choice candidate after Zalewski did not support a 2021 bill that ended a requirement for parents to be notified before their children have an abortion. The two campaigns have even put ads on Chicago-area TV stations in the final weeks of the campaign.  

    Related: Zalewski defends his record as challenger Rashid attempts to tie him to ‘machine-style politics’ 

    In the 51st House District, addiction treatment activist Chelsea Laliberte Barnes of Palatine and Nabeela Syed of Inverness are fighting for the Democratic nomination. Barnes is a social worker who pushed Lali’s Law at the state and federal level to expand access to drugs that can reverse an overdose. Syed, 23, would be one of the youngest people ever elected to the House. The winner will face Rep. Chris Bos (R-Lake Zurich).  


    In the 62nd House District, Grayslake Village Trustee Laura Faver Dias, 10th District Central Committeeman Thomas Maillard, and Lake County Board Member Terry Wilke are vying for the Democratic nomination after Yingling decided to run for Senate. Maillard is endorsed by many local officials but has struggled to raise money, while Dias is backed by Bush and Pritzker.  

    Related: Open Lake County House seat presents opportunity for local leaders to step forward 

    In the 72nd House District, Gregg Johnson, Jeff Deppe and Thurgood Brooks are aiming for the Democratic nomination after Rep. Mike Halpin (D-Rock Island) decided to run for senate. Johnson and Deppe are both former or current union members while Brooks came fewer than 500 voters short of being elected Rock Island mayor in 2021.  

    Related: Open Quad Cities House seat presents opportunity for a fresh face in the Illinois House 

    In the 77th House District, Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Addison) is hoping her decade of experience in the House and decision to run against Madigan for speaker in 2021 will give her a leg up against challenger Norma Hernandez. Hernandez, of Melrose Park, is a Triton College trustee who is backed by Garcia.  

    Related: Former Madigan challenger Willis trying to fight off primary challenge from Chuy ally in west suburbs 

    Republican General Assembly primaries  

    In the 35th Senate District, Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Cherry Valley) is trying to fight off a challenge from Eli Nicolosi, chair of the Winnebago County Republican Party. However, Nicolosi’s campaign has been bogged down by questions about fraudulent petition signatures and requests by other local Republicans that he step down as party chair after his wife filed an order of protection against him.  

    The Republican primaries in the 37th Senate District and 93rd House District expose a divide among Republicans. House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) is backing Brett Nicklaus in his senate primary against Sen. Win Stoller (R-East Peoria). Stoller is supporting Travis Weaver in his house primary against Rep. Mark Luft (R-Pekin). Weaver is the son of former Rep. Chuck Weaver (R-Peoria).  

    Bailey is also trying to use his influence as the Republican front-runner for governor by issuing a series of endorsements supporting primary challengers of incumbent Republican lawmakers. Bailey is backing Weaver, Don Debolt in his primary against Sen. Steve McClure (R-Springfield), Kent Gray in his primary against Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) and Jed Davis in his primary against Rep. David Welter (R-Morris).  

    Polls open at 6 a.m. on primary day and close at 7 p.m. when results are expected to begin being released.  

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