Incumbents, money triumph in several contentious Illinois primaries
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Money was the big winner in a marque Illinois primary race Tuesday night as two multi-millionaires faced off in the governor’s race.
In a key Democratic congressional primary featuring Blue Dog Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski and Democratic progressive activist Marie Newman, it took until the early hours of the morning for the incumbent to emerge victorious.
And in a landmark year for female candidates, the Illinois House primaries seem, thus far, to be following the national trend.
Here’s are some of the results in the Illinois primary races.
Governor’s race goes big
The race to become Illinois’ next governor continued on its track to be one of, if not the most expensive gubernatorial races in American history on Tuesday night, as two self-funding candidates who have already poured millions into their campaigns advanced to the November general election.
The Associated Press projected that Democrat J.B. Pritzker, heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, and incumbent GOP Governor Bruce Rauner won their respective primaries Tuesday night.
Rauner, who poured over $50 million of his own money into his campaign and is widely viewed as the most vulnerable Republican governor in the country, barely held off a primary challenge from conservative State Rep. Jeanne Ives, winning by a little more than 20,000 votes.
Dogged by a budget crisis during his tenure, Rauner has seen his approval rating dip into the 30’s heading towards November, and his performance Tuesday night only further reinforces the narrative that even those in his own party are skeptical of his effectiveness as governor.
But regardless of the margins Tuesday night, more money is now expected to flow into the race now that two independently wealthy candidates will be on the ballot in November.
If the current rate of spending holds, Illinois could break the current record for the most expensive gubernatorial race in American history, a title currently held by California’s 2010 gubernatorial election, which saw roughly $280 million spent.
“It’s entirely possible that that could happen here. The only two people who know how expensive the race will be are the two self-funders,” Sarah Brune, the executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a non-partisan group that tracks political spending in the state, told ABC News.
“All in sum, all of the candidates for governor have raised about $160 million so far,” Brune said, an impressive total considering the general election campaign just now getting underway.
The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) praised Pritzker’s victory Tuesday night, saying he is a candidate that will deliver “much-needed change for Illinois.”
“With a strong candidate like JB Pritzker, Illinois is a top pickup opportunity for Democrats in the fall. The DGA looks forward to working to elect JB Pritzker to serve as Illinois’ next governor,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who chairs the DGA.
The DGA also ran television ads in the waning days of the campaign hoping to boost Ives by reinforcing her conservative credentials and hurt Rauner, a move that appears to have paid dividends Tuesday night.
Lipinski emerges as victor in tight 3rd Congressional District race
It was a nail-biter in one of the most-watched congressional races in the country, but seven-term incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski will likely head towards an eighth term in Illinois 3rd Congressional District after a narrow projected victory over his opponent, Marie Newman.
The Associated Press called the race at 1:17 a.m. EST with 97 percent of precincts reporting and Lipinski holding a slim edge of fewer than 1,600 votes over Newman.
On the Republican side in the 3rd Congressional District, Holocaust denier and self-described “white racialist” Arthur Jones captured the party’s nomination after running unopposed.
‘Pink wave’ hits Illinois House primaries
Heading into the Illinois House primary races, 17 women were vying to win a spot in the November general election. At least six will be on the ballot in November as of late Tuesday night.
Incumbents Democratic Reps. Robin Kelly, Jan Schakowsky, and Cheri Bustos all won their contests. First-time candidate Betsy Dirksen Londrigan will run against GOP Rep. Rodney Davis and Lauren Underwood will run against Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren in November.
Sara Dady in IL-16 came out on top in the Democratic primary race to ultimately run against GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger this fall.
Marie Newman fell just short in her hotly contested primary battle with Lipinski.
Kelly Mazeski leads the pack in IL-06, a race that had five women vying to take on Rep. Peter Roskam in November’s general election.
Suburbs set the stage for a battle for the House
Democrats see the path to the 24 seats they need to regain control of the House as going through the nation’s suburbs.
Prosecutor Brendan Kelly won the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Mike Bost. Donald Trump carried this district, which sits outside the St. Louis suburbs, by 15 points.
This race is in Democrats’ “red to blue” program, meaning it’s one they are going to heavily invest in.
Bost has long ties to the district. He’s represented it since 2015 in Congress and before that was in the Illinois House of Representatives.
Both men are about evenly matched in fundraising.
Kelly has raised almost a million for his bid and had $663,000 cash on hand while Bost raised a little over a million and had $684,000 cash on hand, according to FEC reports.
Female candidates dominated the other two contests in suburban districts.
First-time candidate Betsy Londrigan won the nomination to take on Republican Rep. Rodney Davis in the fight to represent a suburban district outside of Champaign which Trump won by three points.
She has a compelling personal story, saying she was inspired to run after Davis voted in favor of the GOP health care plan, The American Health Care Act.
Londrigan’s candidate biography notes that in 2009 her 12-year-old son, Jack, was fighting a rare, life-threatening illness that resulted from a tick bite. He eventually recovered.
A former teacher, she has been self-employed since 1998, doing fundraising for people like Sen. Dick Durbin and for entities including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. She was endorsed by EMILY’s List.
Finally, there’s the 6th Congressional District seat west of Chicago held by five-term GOP Rep. Peter Roskam.
Clinton won this seat by seven points in 2016 and it’s a heavy Democratic target this cycle.
Kelly Mazeski, a scientist, leads the Democratic primary with 84 percent of precincts reporting but the race has yet to be called by the Associated Press as of early Wednesday morning.
Energy executive Sean Casten is close behind her in second place.
Five women are among the seven candidates running for the Democratic nomination.
Mazeski has the backing of EMILY’s List and Illinois Democratic Reps. Cheri Bustos and Jan Schakowsky. A breast cancer survivor, Mazeski announced her candidacy last May on the same day Roskam joined his fellow Republicans in voting to repeal Obamacare.
Republicans are downplaying concerns about this district.
One GOP strategist pointed out that Roskam has long ties the district. He grew up in the area and represented it in the state legislature from 1993 until he was elected to Congress in 2007.
Republicans also believe their tax cut message will play well here and in other suburban races.
Garcia could represent Latino-majority district
Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez is retiring after more than 20 years in Congress. Hillary Clinton won his Latino-majority district in 2016 with more than 80 percent of the vote.
Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, the winner of the Democratic primary, is highly favored to win the general election November and be the next member of Congress.
Garcia had been contemplating another run against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2019 before Gutierrez announced his retirement. But he quickly pivoted to the congressional race and was endorsed by Gutierrez. In 2015, Garcia forced Emanuel into a runoff for the city’s top spot.
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