Ballots in hand have now been tallied from yesterday’s Illinois primary elections.
* Although overall turnout was low by primary standards, the percentage of Republican ballots requested was relatively high. I read that sometimes the Republican percentage can be as low as about 33%, but yesterday, using tallied votes in the governor’s race with 98% of precincts reported, the Republican percentage was about 46%. Yes, still fewer ballots than those voted by Democrats, but a considerable improvement. This result bodes well for the fall election.
* The Republican nominee for the Obama/Burris Senate seat is five-term Rep. Mark Kirk, 50, from Chicago’s tony North Shore suburban 10th Congressional District. A reserve Naval intelligence officer with a very good reputation in Washington, he bills himself as a fiscal conservative and social moderate, and is strong on national defense. Despite some waffling (for example, he voted for the “cap and trade” carbon tax bill that eventually went nowhere and whose reason for existence is now discredited), he looks strong against the young (33 yo), inexperienced one-term state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, the Democrat primary winner with 39% of the vote who’s under fire for some in-office performance issues as well as for his earlier activities as a senior executive of his family’s politically-connected but failing Chicago bank.
* In the 6-man Republican primary for governor, State Senators Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard are in a race still too close to call – Brady leads by about 400 votes, at 20.3%, with all votes in-hand counted but with, according to WGN TV News, over 10,000 absentee votes still outstanding, about 8,000 of which are from Cook County. Most of the Cook County ballots should be Democrat, and most of the rest are likely Republican. Assuming the 10,000+ number is roughly accurate, assume 3,500 Republican absentee ballots are outstanding and that 2,000 will be received. With a 400 vote margin, Brady's lead looks hard to overcome unless Dillard has a significantly disproportionate showing. Such ballots need to have been postmarked by Feb. 1 and need to be received soon, meaning we won’t have a winner declared for a few weeks; a recount could delay the final determination even further.
Brady is a fiscally-conservative downstate businessman who’s already being attacked by the liberal media as holding “extreme views”, as two different TV commentators phrased it yesterday, for his anti-abortion and pro-gun rights (conceal and carry) positions. Dillard is from west suburban DuPage County, strong Republican territory, whose history on fiscal conservatism is questioned by some, and he notoriously participated in a 2008 Democrat primary campaign commercial for his state Senate pal Barack Obama, widely seen as a de facto endorsement, which has hurt him much among Republicans. Conservatives looking for a fresh face split their vote in the crowded 6 man race between Adam Andrzejewski and Dan Proft; combined the two carried over 22% of the votes, enough to win. Third place finisher Andy McKenna, Chicago businessman and former state party chairman, is about 8,000 votes behind Brady and almost certainly can’t catch up through the absentee ballots. Whoever wins the nomination will be in a tough race with the very erudite, bright, and affable Democrat incumbent governor Pat Quinn, who himself just barely survived a rancorous primary challenge.
* In the Chicago collar counties there are three traditionally Republican Congressional seats held by Democrats. In the far southwest suburban 11th District, Republican Reserve Air Force Captain Adam Kinzinger looks solid against first-term Democrat Debbie Halvorsen. In the far western suburban 14th District, Republican State Senator Randall Hultgren beat back a challenge from political rookie Ethan Hastert, son of former Speaker Denny Hastert, who had held the seat for a long time; he will face Democrat Bill Foster, who in 2008 won both the special election to replace Hastert (after his mid-term retirement) and the regular election against the same weak Republican opponent. Hultgren looks much stronger in a Republican year. Finally, in the northwest suburban 8th District, Republican political newcomer Joe Walsh won the nomination to challenge three-term Democrat Melissa Bean, who has positioned herself as a centrist; this race will be tough. I think the Republicans have a very good chance to pick up two of the three seats.
* In the north suburban 10th Congressional District, political newcomer Robert Dold won the Republican primary to face Democrat Dan Seals in the fall election to replace Mark Kirk. This race could go either way.
For the Illinois federal races, if I had to bet now, I think in the fall Kirk wins the Senate seat and Republicans have a net gain of two Congressional seats (which would raise their share from 7 to 9 of the 19 Illinois seats).
Illinois Republicans: Slip, Slidin’ Away
John M Greco