Illinois, with its partisan primary scheduled for March 18, became the first state to close its filing period, meaning the state’s 2014 political combatants are now official candidates.
The Illinois macro political picture brings us some interesting asides. First, in the congressional delegation, all 18 US House incumbents are seeking re-election, so the Land of Lincoln will feature no open seat campaigns in 2014. Second, each of the 19 federal office holders (including Sen. Dick Durbin) face general election competition. Third, six of the incumbents are drawing primary opposition, though only one appears even potentially serious at the present time.
In the Senate race, four Republicans are vying for the right to challenge Sen. Durbin, but only one is an experienced contender. State Sen. Jim Oberweis, who has previously lost races for senator, governor, and Congress, is trying again. He will likely win the Republican nomination, but poses little threat to Sen. Durbin (D) in what is increasingly becoming a highly Democratic state, President Obama’s favorite son status, notwithstanding.
In the House races, representatives Robin Kelly (D-IL-2), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL-4), Danny Davis (D-IL-7), Brad Schneider (D-IL-10), Rodney Davis (R-IL-13), and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16) have all drawn nomination opponents.
So far, just one of these incumbents, Rep. Davis, can expect a viable challenge but even his opponent is off to a slow start. Former Miss America Erika Harold is running against the freshman congressman, but has raised only $151,000 to begin her campaign. In contrast, Rep. Davis has pulled in $1.16 million so far for the race and has more than $882,000 in his campaign account according to the latest available Federal Election Commission financial disclosure filings (period ending Sept. 30).
Looking at general election House match-ups, several Illinois races either are, or could easily become, top tier national campaigns.
Two of the contests are 2012 re-matches, both from former Republican incumbents who were unseated. In the Chicago area’s north suburban 10th District, Rep. Schneider again faces Republican Robert Dold, the man he ousted last year, 50.6-49.4 percent. The district is 40 percent different than the territory from which Dold won in 2010, and more Democratic. Still, without President Obama’s presence at the top of the ticket, and factoring in the turnout drop-off for a mid-term election, the new Republican challenger has a viable chance of winning back this seat.
To the west in the Quad Cities region, former Rep. Bobby Schilling is also attempting to return to Washington. As in Dold’s situation, then-Rep. Schilling found himself trying to win a seat that was 54 percent new territory and even more Democratic than the district he originally won in 2010. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D) is the new incumbent. She defeated Schilling 53-47 percent last year, but the factors cited above (in the Dold situation) also play here, meaning that a closer 2014 race could also be on the horizon.
Democratic Rep. Bill Foster’s 11th District (elected to District 14 in 2008; defeated in 2010; elected to District 11 in 2012) has drawn five Republican opponents, including local County Commissioner Chris Balkema and state Rep. Darlene Senger. Likely, the Republican primary will decide who wins the right to lose to Foster, as the new 11th is decidedly Democratic. The congressman defeated former Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL-13) here last year 59-41 percent.
The southwestern 12th District could become very interesting as freshman Rep. Bill Enyart (D) defends his seat against state Rep. Mike Bost (R). The 12th is politically marginal in nature and certainly some of Gov. Pat Quinn’s (D) policies are highly unpopular in this region. The governor’s presence on the downstate Illinois ballot could give certain candidates, like Bost, a turnout advantage.
In the aforementioned 13th District, the key Democrats are former local Judge Ann Callis and college professor George Gollin. Since incumbent Rodney Davis won with the lowest percentage of any Republican throughout the nation (46.5 percent) in 2012, we can expect a hard charge again this year. Callis is favored to win the Democratic nomination.
The race for governor, considering Gov. Quinn’s poor approval ratings, will become highly competitive for whichever of the four major Republican candidates wins the party nomination on March 18. In the official field now are 2010 nominee Bill Brady, a state senator who lost to Quinn by less than one percentage point, venture capitalist Bruce Rauner who is already running television advertising, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford who fares best in early polling against Quinn, and state Sen. Kirk Dillard who lost a close nomination battle to Brady in the last gubernatorial primary.