2012 Elections preview: Congressional, state legislative primaries in Illinois highlighted by incumbent battles
Polls are open from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm Central Time.
There are 18 seats up for grabs in Illinois' 2012 congressional elections. Heading into the general election, the Republican Party holds 11 of Illinois' 19 congressional seats - after the 2010 census, the state lost one seat.
|Members of the U.S. House from Illinois -- Partisan Breakdown|
|Party||As of November 2012||After the 2012 Election|
Veteran incumbent Bobby L. Rush faces a considerable challenge in the Democratic primary. Candidates Harold Bailey, Raymond Lodato, Fred Smith, Clifford Russell, Jr. and Jordan Sims are all taking on the 1st district incumbent. In the Republican primary Blue Island mayor Donald Peloquin, Chicago police officer Frederick Collins and candidate Jimmy Lee Tillman II are vying for the Republican nomination.
Fred Smith has been endorsed in the Democratic primary over incumbent Bobby L. Rush. Rush has been criticized by “govtrack.us” for having the "fourth worst missed-vote record in Congress — 13.2 percent". He has also taken criticism from suburban mayors who "grumble that he's less responsive to their constituents' needs than to those of city residents." The redrawn 1st District, reaching into rural Will County, will bring in many more suburban voters.
On the Republican ticket, Donald Peloquin has been endorsed over Frederick Collins, and Jimmy Lee Tillman II. Peloquin is known for his "2004 attempt to get dozens of southland communities to secede and form 'Lincoln County.'" The Chicago Tribune noted that Peloquin is a strong advocate for a third regional airport and would work for federal funding for infrastructure projects,citing one instance when St. Francis Hospital announced it was closing, when he helped build the coalition that created MetroSouth Medical Center.
Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., the incumbent in the District 2 race, is facing off against Debbie Halvorson, who previously served the United States House of Representatives from 2009 to 2011, representing Illinois District 11. Jackson has held his position as the representative from District 2 since 1996, when he defeated his opponent in that year's general election with 94.1% of the vote.
For 2012, Jackson has been consistently ahead in polls conducted since January, including surveys by Lake Research Partners and also a Halvorson campaign poll. Of the three reported polls taken, voters have favored the incumbent by an average of 50.33% to 29.33%. Endorsements for Jackson include Nancy Pelosi, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
On the Republican ballot, James H. Taylor, Sr. will square off against Brian Woodworth. Taylor, Sr. is a former Department of Child and Family Services employee, while Woodworth on the other hand is an associate professor in the Department of Social Work and Criminal Justice in the School of Professional Studies at Olivet Nazarene University.
Daniel Lipinski was endorsed by the ‘’Chicago Tribune over challenger Farah Baqai in the Democratic primary.  Lipinksi was the only Illinois Democrat in the House to vote "no" on President Obama's national health care law, saying the program was unsustainable, and wanting strong language against federal funding of abortion. According to a February 23, 2012 article in the Chicago Tribune, "His position was at odds with the White House, but in step with his district."
Incumbent Luis V. Gutierrez is the sole candidate in the race for the 4th district. He will run unopposed after candidates Hector Concepcion and Jorge Zavala were removed from the official candidate list shortly after the filing deadline.
Incumbent Mike Quigley will run unopposed in the Democratic primary, as will first-time candidate Dan Schmitt in the Republican primary. The two-time incumbent will then face the first time candidate in the general election in November.
Republican incumbent Peter J. Roskam will run unopposed in the primary, while Democratic ticket newcomers Maureen Yates, Leslie Coolidge, and Geoffrey Petzel will challenge each other to decide who will face Roskam in the general election.
Leslie Coolidge was endorsed by the Chicago Tribune in the Democratic primary over candidates Geoffrey Petzel and Maureen Yates. In a February 23, 2012 article, the Chicago Tribune's endorsement states, "We like her analytical approach to fiscal matters and her willingness to fine-tune ideas — increasing the cap on earnings subject to Social Security taxes, for example, or raising the retirement age — based on the actual numbers."
Incumbent Danny K. Davis faces only one opponent Jacques Conway in the Democratic primary tomorrow. Because no candidate filed to run on the Republican ticket, whoever wins in the primary is almost guaranteed a general election win in November.
The Chicago Tribune notes that Davis "seems more engaged lately, holding town hall meetings, advocating for equitable mass transit funding and working to find alternatives to the U.S. Postal Service's plan to close "underperforming" local post offices." Davis has in recent years been criticized for having pushed to be Cook County Board president, throwing his name in the mix for the Obama Senate seat, and having considered a run for Chicago mayor, but in 2012 has been considered the "favorite" and viewed as having made considerable strides in his political involvement of late.
According to a March 7 article in the Austin Daily News "Davis has raised roughly $148,000 in this election cycle, and his campaign has about $260,000 in cash on hand, according to the Federal Election Commission. The commission lists no fundraising total for Conway. He estimates, however, raising a few thousand dollars last month."
Tammy Duckworth has secured the backing of most of Illinois' influential political figures in the Democratic primary against Raja Krishnamoorthi. The two are vying to take on Joe Walsh in a "Democratic-leaning, suburban Chicago district", and whoever wins is the likely favorite in the general election.
Duckworth has endorsements from Dick Durbin, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Obama advisor David Axelrod. Krishnamoorthi is supported by Danny K. Davis and Cook County Board Chair Toni Preckwinkle.
Heading into the election the incumbent is Jan Schakowsky, who was first elected in 1998. Schakowsky is facing opposition from high school teacher and first time candidate Simon Ribeiro in the Democratic primary. On the Republican ticket, accountant and financial planner Timothy Wolfe is running unopposed and will face the winner of the contest between incumbent Schakowsky and Ribeiro in the general election.
Freshman incumbent Robert J. Dold will run unopposed in the Republican primary. However, the Democratic ticket has four candidates, John Tree, Ilya Sheyman, Vivek Bavda and Brad Schneider, each vying for the spot on the ballot in the general election against Dold.
Dold won the Democratic-leaning suburban Chicago 10th district in 2010 by a narrow three-point margin, but due to redistricting may face more of a challenge this time around. In the redistricting process the district was pushed further into the suburbs, making it a bit more Democratic, and removing some of the swing voters that had allowed him to win in 2010. Because of this, The Hill listed Robert J. Dold as the 5th most vulnerable Republican incumbents in 2012 as a result of redistricting.
Judy Biggert (R), who has served in the U.S. House since 1999, saw her current district, the 13th, divided among six different districts following the once-a-decade redistricting process. With her home moved into the Democratic-leaning 5th, which includes an area stretching from the Chicago lakefront east to O'Hare Airport and south to Hinsdale, Biggert opted to run in the 11th, which is strictly made up of suburban areas more friendly to Republicans. Current 11th District incumbent Adam Kinzinger (R) is running in the 15th.
The biggest story in the lead up to the primary has revolved around the removal of Biggert’s Republican challengers from the ballot. On February 2, the State Board of Elections disqualified Kane County Clerk John Cunningham and community activist Diane Harris for having turned in an insufficient number of valid signatures. Harris decided to run as a write-in, but Cunningham’s story was just beginning. To make sense of it all, here is a short timeline of what happened:
- February 7: Cunningham files for judicial review
- February 21: Judge Susan Fox-Gillis reverses the decision by the BOE, reinstating Cunningham on the ballot.
- February 24: Two Aurora men file an appeal with the Illinois First Appellate District asking them to review the decision of the lower court.
- February 27: Early voting begins with Cunningham's name on the ballot
- March 7: The appellate court removes Cunningham from the ballot, sending the matter back to the State Board of Elections for reconsideration.
- March 12: BOE votes 7-1 that votes for Cunningham should not be counted, sends case back to appellate court for final decision.
- March 14: Appellate court upholds the BOE's recommendation.
Cunningham said the fight is not necessarily over and that he is considering running as an independent in the general election.
The Democratic side will see a three-way battle between former U.S. Representative from the 14th District Bill Foster, President of the Orland Fire District James Hickey, and former Aurora Township clerk Juan Thomas. Foster, who has raised more than $1 million and the backing of the Democratic establishment, is the front-runner in the race. Thomas has raised $103,000, while Hickey has brought in $3,600.
Heading into the election the incumbent is Jerry F. Costello, who was first elected in 1988. Costello will retire rather than run for re-election. The lack of incumbent in the election opens up the seat for both parties, resulting in considerable opposition in the primary.
Democratic candidates include former regional superintendent for St. Clair County Brad Harriman, Army veteran Chris Miller, and retired carpenter Kenneth Wiezer while on the Republican ticket candidates include former mayor of Belleville Rodger Cook, nurse Theresa Kormos, and 2010 nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Illinois Jason Plummer.
Heading into the election the incumbent is Judy Biggert , who was first elected in 1998. However, Biggert no longer lives in the redrawn district,  and will instead seek the seat in the 11th District in 2012. Incumbent Tim Johnson, representative from the 15th district, will seek re-election in the new 13th district. Johnson faces competition from veterinarian Michael Firsching and candidate Frank Metzger in the Republican primary.
Freshman incumbent Randy Hultgren will run opposed in the Republican primary, but will then face the winner of the contest for the Democratic nomination between research administrator Dennis Anderson and computer systems consultant Jonathan Farnick in the general election in November.
Heading into the election the incumbent is Tim Johnson (R), who was first elected in 2000. Johnson announced he will run in the 13th district, leaving the seat open. Incumbent John Shimkus, the Representative from the newly defunct 19th district will seek re-election in the open seat in the 15th district.  Shimkus will run unopposed in the Republican primary, as will candidate Angela Michael in the Democratic primary. The two will then face each other in the general election in November.
Incumbent Don Manzullo, a 20-year veteran Congressman, is being challenged by fellow Republican Adam Kinzinger, a first-term incumbent from Illinois' 11th congressional district who has opted to run in District 16 as a result of redistricting. No Democratic candidates filed in the district, so the winner of tomorrow’s primary election is all but guaranteed a general election win in November.
In what Politico has called a "nasty" and "divisive" primary, the two candidates have gone back and forth trying to “out-conservative” one another, each running attack ads accusing their opponent of excessive spending while touting their own voting record on key spending bills in Congress.
Earlier this month, Kinzinger's campaign got a huge boost as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Rep. John Shimkus offered him their endorsement, identifying him as a "new breed of conservatism" and a key member of their team, giving Kinzinger their "enthusiastic endorsement" and "total support." But Manzullo has picked up some heavy-hitting conservative endorsements of his own - including the Illinois Tea Party, the Illinois Family-PAC Federal and Larry Morrissey, the Mayor of Rockford, the new 16th district's largest city - setting up one of this election season's most contentious primaries that pits the national Tea Party movement against establishment Republicans.
Early polls showed the candidates in a virtual deadlock, and though Kinzinger appeared to be gaining momentum in mid-February and lead Manzullo by as many as 14 points, Manzullo has fought back and in the latest round of polling has a 0.41 % lead over Kinzinger, with just over 15% of the voters still undecided.
Although the polls seem to indicate Manzullo has some momentum going in to tomorrow's election, the Super PAC aligned with Cantor is reportedly putting $50,000 worth of support behind Kinzinger, including a radio spot that is scheduled to run from last Friday through tomorrow evening, dubbing Kinzinger "a conservative rock in the fight against runaway government spending." No matter the outcome, this primary race will be one for the record books.
Freshman incumbent Bobby Schilling will run unopposed on the Republican ticket in the primary. The Democratic ticket will be a three way contest for candidates Greg Aguilar, East Moline alderwoman Cheri Bustos and mayor of Freeport George Gaulrapp, each vying for the nomination.
Former Democratic candidate Rock Island attorney Eric Reyes made the decision to drop out of the Democratic primary in order to run instead as an Independent candidate in the general election against incumbent Bobby Schilling and the winner of the Democratic primary. 
Two-term incumbent Aaron Schock will seek re-election in the 18th district. He will run unopposed in the Republican primary. Candidates Steve Waterworth, a retired Air Force and Illinois Air National Guard Master Sargeant, and student Matt Woodmancy will face off in the Democratic primary for the nomination to take on incumbent Aaron Schock in the general election.
There are a total of 177 state legislative seats up for election this year. With two party primaries in each district, there are 344 possible primaries next Tuesday. Out of those 344 possible occurrences for voters to choose between multiple candidates, there are only 67 contested primaries. In other words, in 81.5% of the Illinois state legislative primaries, there is only one candidate running on the ballot -- or none at all.
- There are 28 contested primaries in the senate, one of which, District 35, features two current GOP incumbents who were drawn into the same district via redistricting. Dave Syverson will face Christine J. Johnson in the only incumbent vs. incumbent battle of the day.
- There are 39 contested primaries in the house
- United States House of Representatives elections in Illinois, 2012
- United States House of Representatives elections, 2012
- Chicago Tribune "Contested races for the U.S. House" Accessed March 12, 2012
- WGN TV.com, "Nancy Pelosi throws her support behind Jesse Jackson Jr.", March 3, 2012
- PJ Star, "Mayor Rahm Emanuel Backs Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. for District 2 Congressman", March 6, 2012
- Chicago Tribune, "Quinn backs Jackson, but not in person", March 11, 2012
- NBC Chicago, "James H. Taylor Sr.", March 7, 2012
- Congressional Primaries, "Brian Woodworth", Retrieved March 19, 2012
- Illinois State Board of Elections "Candidate List" Accessed December 27, 2011
- Illinois State Board of Elections "Candidate List" Accessed December 27, 2011
- Austin Weekly News "Davis, Conway make final push" Accessed March 12, 2012
- The Hill "Illinois House races heating up" Accessed March 12, 2012
- The Hill "Most vulnerable redistricted Republicans" Accessed March 12, 2012
- Chicago Tribune, "Biggert now unopposed in GOP race," February 2, 2012
- Daily Herald, "Biggert to be unopposed in primary," February 2, 2012
- ‘’Chicago Tribune, “Biggert foe remains off Tuesday’s primary ballot,” March 15, 2012
- ‘’Chicago Tribune, “5 candidates vie for open seat in new 11th Congressional District,” March 13, 2012
- ksdk.com "Rep. Jerry Costello won't seek re-election in 2012" Accessed December 5, 2011
- Chicago Sun-Times "Illinois Democrats target GOP with redrawing of congressional map" Accessed December 5, 2011
- State Journal-Register "Rep. Johnson will run in new 13th U.S. House District" Accessed December 6, 2011
- The Telegraph "Johnson faces two challengers in 13th District GOP primary" Accessed March 15, 2012
- ‘’Politico, “Cantor PAC backs freshman over GOP veteran,” March 16, 2012
- Politico.com, "Cantor endorses Kinzinger over Manzullo," March 8, 2012
- The Hill, "Poll: Kinzinger, Manzullo tied," March 15, 2012
- Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research WPA Research, "WPA Poll: Manzullo/Kinzinger tied in IL-16," February 8, 2012
- We Ask America, "Illinois 16," February 21, 2-12
- We Ask America, "Too close to call," March 14, 2012
- [WIFR.com "Gaulrapp and Reyes Still in the Congressional Race" Accessed March 15, 2012
- Eric Reyes for Congress "STATEMENT OF ERIC REYES ON ANSWERING THE CALL OF VOTERS FOR AN INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE" Accessed March 15, 2012