Illinois Primary Previews Part 1: Governor and other Statewide Offices

Governor (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)

Democratic Primary

Candidates: Daniel Biss, Bob Daiber, Tio Hardiman, Chris Kennedy, Robert Marshall, J.B. Pritzker

Overview: In one of the biggest Gubernatorial primaries of 2018, three of the six Democrats running have a chance of winning the nomination to challenge for this very vulnerable Republican seat. Of the three with a chance, J.B. Pritzker is the clear favorite. Pritzker, a billionaire Nonprofit Executive who is the heir to Hyatt Hotels, is the most moderate of the three candidates, and as a result has a lot of the endorsements of the generally centrist Illinois Democratic establishment. This includes the endorsements of both Illinois Senators, Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin and US Representatives Mike Quigley and Cheri Bustos, as well as key union organizations. Pritzker will likely take large numbers of votes from the suburbs of Chicago, which make up a very large percentage of the vote. Prtizker has been consistently led in polls by 8–20 points, but the two candidates behind him have switched back in forth between second and third place, and both have a path to victory. State Senator Daniel Biss is the top pick of the progressive left for this race, touting the endorsement of Bernie Sanders and progressive group Our Revolution as well as a lot of progressive advocacy groups including Planned Parenthood and National Nurses United. Biss also seems likely to take a lot of the young vote in the race, mirroring the Sanders campaign of 2016, which barely lost in Illinois. If Biss can run up the score in rural areas and keep the margin close in the Chicago area, he will very likely win this race, as that combination got Sanders 48% in 2016. Nonprofit executive and son of Robert F. Kennedy, Chris Kennedy is also running for this seat. Kennedy has been the most popular pick among voters in Chicago, getting the endorsement of local US Representatives Danny Davis and Bobby Rush, both key figures in the Chicago African American community. He also has the endorsement of Chuy Garcia, the heavy favorite to take over Chicago’s Hispanic-majority 4th district. If he spreads that support to the suburbs, he has a definite path to victory. The other candidates are Activist Tio Hardiman, Madison County Superintendent of Schools Bob Daiber, and Physician Robert Marshall.

Prediction: J.B. Pritzker wins with 35% of the vote.

Republican Primary

Candidates: Bruce Rauner (Incumbent), Jeanne Ives

Overview: Incumbent Bruce Rauner faces an uphill battle in the general election, but first he has to get past what seems like an increasingly difficult primary. State Representative Jeanne Ives is his opponent, attacking the moderate Rauner from the right. She has found a solid chord with GOP primary voters in an increasingly conservative party which is swinging against the moderate, gaining in the polls in recent weeks, most recently trailing just 42–35 in a poll released last week. Democrats have sensed an opportunity to easily win the governor’s mansion if Ives wins and have deliberately put out a campaign ad against her intended to boost her candidacy. The ad blasts her as too conservative and siding with Donald Trump too much, mimicking a move by Claire McCaskill in the 2012 Missouri Senate election. In that election, she put out ads calling Todd Akin too conservative in order to give him more support among conservatives. It worked then when Akin won the primary and imploded in the general election, and Democrats will hope it works again on Tuesday. Rauner has in turn blasted Ives as the favored candidate of Democrats, probably the best way he could respond to those ads. Rauner is expected to carry the Chicago area by a wide margin, but if Ives gets really high margins in the rest of the state, he could be in big trouble.

Prediction: Bruce Rauner wins with 55% of the vote.

Attorney General (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Not Running)

Democratic Primary

Candidates: Scott Drury, Sharon Fairley, Aaron Goldstein, Renato Mariotti, Kwame Raoul, Nancy Rotering, Jesse Ruiz, Pat Quinn

Overview: In an eight candidate primary for this open office, there only are two candidates who appear to have a good chance to win, but they are deadlocked. State Senator Kwame Raoul has the endorsement of much of the political establishment, especially among the African American community in Chicago, running with the endorsement of all three of Chicago’s African American US representatives. He also has the majority of Chicago’s union endorsements, which should help him in this election. However, he is currently slightly trailing former Governor Pat Quinn in the polls. Quinn lost his last statewide race in 2014, so Illinois Democrats have been apprehensive about supporting him. However, he has strong name recognition, which has given him a lead in the polls. Whether that will be sustained remains to be seen. Three other candidates could also be relevant in the primary. Highland Park Nancy Rotering has the support of Congresswomen Cheri Bustos and Jan Schakowski and could pick up support in the suburbs. Sharon Fairley works with keeping the Chicago Police Department accountable and has the endorsement of a few local newspapers, which should help her pick up votes in the city. State representative Scott Drury is a high profile candidate but has struggled outside his suburban district. Chicago Park District President Jesse Ruiz, Democratic Committeeman Aaron Goldstein, and former Federal Prosecutor Renato Mariotti are also running.

Prediction: Kwame Raoul wins with 30% of the vote.

Republican Primary

Candidates: Garry Grasso, Erika Harold

Overview: The Republican primary for this seat shouldn’t be that much of a contest, with attorney and former Miss America Erika Harold dominating in fundraising and receiving all the key endorsements. Former mayor of Burr Ridge Garry Grasso is also running for the seat and only trailed Harold 18–14 in the only poll released. However, Harold seems to have way too much establishment support and therefore name recognition to not come out on top in a race many voters won’t all that pay much attention to.

Prediction: Erika Harold wins with 65% of the vote.

Secretary Of State (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)

Democratic Primary

Incumbent Jesse Smith is unopposed in the Democratic Primary

Republican Primary

Gundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland is unopposed in the Republican primary

Treasurer (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)

Democratic Primary

Incumbent Mike Frerichs is unopposed in the Democratic Primary

Republican Primary

Orland Park Village Trustee Jim Dodge is unopposed in the Republican primary

Comptroller (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)

Democratic Primary

Incumbent Susana Mendoza is unopposed in the Democratic Primary

Republican Primary

Former State Representative Darlene Senger is unopposed in the Republican primary


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