By Jim Ellis
March 21, 2018 — Land of Lincoln voters went to the polls yesterday to vote in the nation’s second primary of the 2018 midterm election season.
The headliner of Election Day was the gubernatorial primary, as Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), sporting poor job approval ratings but having virtually unlimited financial resources, squared off against conservative state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton). Ives received early support in the form of a $2.5 million donation from mega-donor Dick Uihlein, but her standing did not greatly improve in the past weeks, meaning her long-shot campaign remained as such entering Election Day.
Because of significant dissatisfaction with Gov. Rauner within the GOP base constituency, Ives was projected to perform better than a typical candidate challenging a sitting governor in a party primary. Yet, her performance was not strong enough to deny Rauner from advancing into the general election. Rauner scored only a 51.5 – 48.5 percent win over Ives in a primary result that indicates the state chief executive’s GOP political base is eroding.
Yesterday’s most competitive race wasn’t the one most had predicted — on the Democratic side of the gubernatorial primary. Venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker had spent over $65 million of his own money in this campaign, and was fortunate to have drawn two equivalently strong intra-party opponents.
A new poll from Victory Research (March 13-16; 1,204 registered Illinois voters) — the last before the vote — found Pritzker with only a 32-26-22 percent lead over Chicago businessman Chris Kennedy, who had advertised heavily and featured footage in his promotional ads of his late father, US attorney general and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Chicago). Biss had shown surprising strength for a legislator without statewide name identification. But Pritzker won the party nomination with 45.4 percent of the vote, a much larger total than the polling had predicted.