Illinois voters took to the polls yesterday in an historic turnout expected to be near 40 percent. An unexpected wave of voters took advantage of a new law allowing same day registration at individual polling locations that resulted in some havoc when more than dozen counties ran out of ballots in certain precincts and had to extend voting hours into the night.
Perhaps the real winner of the primary cycle was big money with 2016 being the most expensive in Illinois history. Independent expenditure PACs and traditional political action committees combined to spend excessive amounts of money including more than $6.4 million in one state representative race. Many presidential campaigns were also the beneficiary of tremendous amounts of money spend to support their candidacies or target their opponents.
Click here for a list of every race in Illinois with highlights below.
For the first time in many years, Illinois played a large role in presidential politics because no candidate for either major party had secured the nomination before the March primary. More than 3.3 million votes were cast yesterday in the 2016 primary that dwarfs the 1.5 million votes cast four years ago.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton survived a spirited challenge from Senator Bernie Sanders to win with approximately 50 percent of the vote. Clinton earned slightly more than one million votes to eke out a 34,000 vote margin. Clinton has a good night sweeping all five states that also included Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, and Florida. Clinton now has accumulated 1,599 delegates that are nearly double the 844 delegates committed to Sanders. She needs 2,382 delegates to win the nomination. If that occurs which is likely, Clinton will end a long drought and become the first Cabinet secretary to become a major party’s choice for President since Herbert Hoover in 1928.
Republican Donald Trump won Illinois along with Florida, North Carolina, and is leading in a very close race in Missouri. However, Governor John Kasich held his home state of Ohio that could have major ramifications for the election because it increases the difficulty for any candidate to win amajority of delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination. With 1,237 votes needed to secure the nomination, Trump is now sitting at 661 delegates well ahead of Ted Cruz (406), Marco Rubio (169), and John Kasich (142). There are 1,094 remaining delegates and Trump will need to win 53 percent of remaining delegates (576) to claim the nomination. In the wake of Tuesday’s outcome, Florida Senator Marco Rubio suspended his campaign leaving three candidates in the race.
United States Senate
The race for U.S. Senate contained no surprises with Republican Senator Mark Kirk easily besting conservative challenger James Marter by garnering more than 71 percent of the vote.
On the Democrat side, current Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth bested Andrea Zopp and State Senator Napoleon Harris as expected winning more than 64 percent of the vote.
Republicans currently control the U.S. Senate by a 54-46 margin. In 2016, there are 34 senate seats up for election nationally with Republicans currently holding 24 of these seats. Political pundits often rank Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk’s seat as the best chance for a Democrat pickup as they strive to take control of the chamber. This will be an expensive and hotly contested election in the fall.
After the unexpected passing of Republican Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka in 2014, Leslie Geissler Munger was appointed to serve out her term but a special election will be held in 2016. Comptroller Munger was unopposed in her primary election and will face current Democrat Chicago City ClerkSusana Mendoza in the general election.
Illinois has eighteen members of Congress each of whom is up for election in 2016 but there were very few contested primaries.
In the race to replace suburban 8th district Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, Raja Krishnamoorthi easily defeated two candidates including State Senator Mike Noland to win the Democrat nomination. He will face Republican Pete Dicianni in the general election. If elected in the General Election, Krishnamoorthi will become the first Indian-American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois.
In Lake County, 10th district Republican Congressman Bob Dold was unopposed in his primary election. On the Democrat side, former CongressmanBrad Schneider defeated challenger Nancy Rotering for a chance at a rematch in the fall election. This will be the most targeted Congressional election in Illinois and a very expensive contest in November.
In a sprawling downstate district, longtime Republican Congressman John Shimkus crushed State Senator Kyle McCarter in an election in which the challenger focused largely on term limits.
Republican Congressman Rodney Davis easily bested a conservative challenger in the 13th district that spreads across central Illinois.
Democrat Bill Foster was uncontested and will face DuPage County Board member Tonia Khouri who narrowly escaped a three-way primary election.
Two-thirds of State Senate seats are up for election in November along with every seat in the House of Representatives yet there were very few truly contested primary elections. There were only 21 contested primaries in the House with another 7 contested races in the State Senate. Seven of the contested primaries involved an open seat because the incumbent retired or moved into another position.
In a high profile election in which both sides spent millions of dollars, Republican Senator Sam McCann handily defeated challenger Bryce Benton in a race that served as a microcosm of the battle between Governor Bruce Rauner and labor unions. McCann was backed by labor unions after he was the only Republican to vote for an AFSCME binding arbitration bill drawing the ire of the Rauner Administration. McCann and his allies spent $1.4 million while Benton was the beneficiary of nearly $3.2 million from independent expenditure PACs allied with the Governor.
In Lake County, Republican Dan McConchie narrowly bested two candidates to earn the nomination to replace retiring Senator Dan Duffy.
In Southern Illinois, Republican Paul Schimpf defeated conservative activist Sharee Langenstein to replace the retiring Senator Dave Luechtefeld. Schimpf will now face former Democrat Lt. Governor Sheila Simon who ran unopposed for the Democrat nomination.
House Speaker Michael J. Madigan faced three challengers including Jason Gonzalez who was backed by hundreds of thousands of dollars in independent expenditures. At the end of the night, the Speaker easily won the primary election garnering nearly two-thirds of the votes in a four-way race.
In the second race viewed as a race between Governor Rauner and organized labor, Democrat incumbent Ken Dunkin was trounced by a two-to-one margin by union-backed challenger Juliana Stratton. Combined spending in the race totaled more than $6.4 million largely funded by independent expenditures PACs allied with unions and the Governor. Dunkin’s total spending of $3.2 million equated to about $363 per vote in the most expensive legislative race.
Chicago teacher unions targeted Democrat incumbent Christian Mitchell for the second straight election and lost again. Mitchell easily beat repeat challenger Jay Travis in this city district.
On the Democrat side, educator Theresa Mah beat Alex Acevedo in a bitter contest. Acevedo was seeking to replace his dad in the legislature. Republicans fielded no candidate in this Chicago district meaning that Mah will become the first elected Asian-American in the General Assembly.
Newly appointed Chicago Democrat Sonya Harper narrowly won a four-way primary election in her first race since replacing Esther Golar who passed away.
In the Quad Cities, long-time Democrat Pat Verschoore is retiring and voters selected Michael Halpin in a four-way primary over Jeffrey Jacobs. He will face Republican Brandi McGuire in the general election.
Republican Don Moffitt is retiring in the 74th district based in Galesburg. In a three-way election, voters chose Daniel Swanson as the Republican candidate.
In McHenry County, Republican Mike Tryon’s retirement sparked a four-way contest with Allen Skillicorn narrowly winning.
Appointed Republican Avery Bourne defeated two challengers in the 95th district that is south of Springfield. She easily turned back a challenger backed by the Illinois Education Association but will face a stiff challenge from Democrat Mike Mathis in the fall.
In similar fashion, newly appointed Republican Sara Wojcicki Jimenez took office after her predecessor became the Director of Agriculture. She overwhelmingly beat political gadfly Kent Gray and will square off against Democrat Tony DelGiorno in the fall.
In east-central Illinois, former Republican representative Brad Halbrook appears to have narrowly defeated two candidates in the 102nd district following the retirement of Rep. Adam Brown.
In southeast Illinois, Republican incumbents Davis Reis and Reggie Phillips each won their respective primary elections easily.
In a very high profile race in Cook County, challenger Kim Foxx knocked off incumbent States’ Attorney Anita Alvarez in a three-way primary with the spotlight on a recent police shooting.
Embattled Democrat Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown who is facing a federal investigation garnered nearly 47 percent of the vote to cruise to victory in a three-way primary election.