Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My thoughts on the Illinois Primaries

Following the stunning win by Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts’ special election to fill the Senate seat made vacant by the passing of Ted Kennedy, national eyes were on Illinois, and their primary elections.

While it would be a little harder to read these elections as reflecting on Barack Obama, there are still many telling sings that can be taken from these elections.

As with most primaries, voter turnout was low, with a little over 1.6 million votes cast, out of almost 8 million registered voters in Illinois.

First, I’ll recap the races of importance, and then provide a bit of commentary regarding the outcomes. As I write this, it’s after 3 AM in Illinois, and we don’t know as much as we thought we would some 8 hours after polls closed.

Both party’s Senate primary were decided early, not surprisingly.

On the Democratic side, with 99% of precincts reporting:

Candidate Votes Percentage

Alexi Giannoulias 345,265 39.0%
David Hoffman 298,845 33.8%
Cheryle Jackson 174,433 19.7%
Robert Marshall 50,725 5.7%
Jacob Meister 16,000 1.8%

Winning this election is the first bit of good news to happen to Alexi Giannoulias lately. He’s been in the news a lot lately, and not because he has long been the Democratic front runner for the seat formerly held by Barack Obama. Instead, he’s been in the news for scandals at his family owned bank, Broadway Bank. In their latest FDIC filings, Broadway Bank revealed they have lost more than $75 million dollars in the last year. This, coupled with Giannoulias’s ties with convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko, will give his opponent in November’s general election some ammunition to load their smear gun with.

And who will that candidate be?

In the Republican Senate Primary, with 99% of precincts reporting:

Candidate Votes Percentage

Mark Kirk 416,853 56.6%
Patrick Hughes 141,751 19.3%
Don Lowery 65,771 8.9%
Kathleen Thomas 53,673 7.3%
Andy Martin 37,201 5.1%
John Arrington 20,888 2.8%

This result comes as no surprise. Some might argue Mark Kirk is one of the most powerful men in Illinois politics. It was the thought of him running in a special election, after all, that led for the state’s Democratic leaders, such as Pat Quinn and Michael Madigan, to do an about face on calling for a special election to fill President Obama’s Senate seat following the arrest of Rod Blagojevich. Mark Kirk, a congressman from Chicagoland, is a moderate Republican, and is often criticized by the more conservative faction of the GOP. Personally, I don’t have a ton of problems with him, although his vote for the Cap & Trade legislation last year bothered me. He’s not as conservative as I’d like, but I also know he’d be a good fit for Illinois.

The Giannoulias vs. Kirk election will be very interesting, and will get a lot of press nationally. Illinois is listed as a tossup by most pundits, and would be a big pick up for the GOP, should Kirk win. A lot remains to be written between now and November, and the question I have is how far Kirk will go to tie Giannoulias to Rezko, and by default, Blagojevich. His close ties to Obama (they’re basketball buddies) may also have an effect, and that could be positive or negative, depending on how Obama’s year two goes.

In the governor races, both sides are still up in the air.

It was a two person race on the Democratic side, between Gov. Pat Quinn and state comptroller Dan Hynes.

With 99% of precincts reporting:

Candidate Votes Percentage

Pat Quinn 451,702 50.4%
Dan Hynes 444,050 49.6%

It looks like this is going to go for Quinn, barring a large number of absentee ballots coming in. It will be hard for Hynes to gain the over 7,600 votes necessary.

The Republican side is a difference story, however:

With 99% reporting:

Candidate Votes Percentage

Bill Brady 154,646 20.3%
Kirk Dillard 154,143 20.2%
Andy McKenna 146,614 19.3%
Jim Ryan 129,686 17.0%
Adam Andrzejewski 109,954 14.4%
Dan Proft 58,861 7.7%
Bob Schillerstrom 7,343 1.0%

This race is one of the closest I can recall, with only 503 votes separating the top two finishers. As a downstater, I am certainly pulling for Bill Brady, a lifelong resident of Bloomington, here. Kirk Dillard has come under fire from Republicans for his support of Barack Obama, and he even appeared in a campaign ad for Obama before the Iowa caucuses in 2008.

Since Illinois has fairly unique recount laws, it will take a bit of luck for the outcome to be changed. There is no automatic recount, however, a candidate who receives at least 95% of the vote of the winner my file for “discovery”. A court has to rule that there is sufficient cause that a recount would change the outcome of the election.

I don’t expect the winner of this race to be determined for a while, and it will hinge on absentee ballots, and more than likely ultimately be decided in a courtroom.

As far as local Peoria elections, there are a few I’d like to comment on. I always thought it was weird that positions such as Sheriff and judges are elected positions. I think the community would be better served by the most qualified person serving on those positions, as opposed to someone who can win a popular vote.

However, in the case of Peoria County Sheriff, I agree whole heartedly with the decision to retain Mike McCoy. Sheriff is one of those positions that people generally don’t put as much thought into their vote as they would for say Senator or President. However, it is positions like these that directly affect your lives. As a good friend of mine says, “the local elections are the most important, than can screw you directly.”

In the same vein, I am glad to see Joe Vespa win the Republican primary to fill his brother’s judgeship. He ran an outstanding campaign, and, if elected in November, will be a great addition to the 10th judicial circuit.

It’s certainly an exciting time to be a fan of politics, with plenty of nationally important races coming up. As a proud conservative, it’s great to see the GOP finally have a chance at making strides in Illinois, and having a say in state politics. I’m hopeful that Bill Brady will be victorious in November, and will bring some downstate sensibility back to Springfield, something we haven’t had since the days of Jim Edgar.


  1. Great job, Luke. I enjoyed reading your analysis. I was very happy Brady is in the lead because it is really tiring to see only Chicago pols representing the interests of the whole state.

  2. Their is a typo in the paragraph relating to the judicial seat being vacated by the retirement of Judge Joe Vespa. John Vespa won the Republican nomination (not Joe). Thanks!