Dec. 7, 2015 — Candidate filing for the 2016 Illinois election calendar has now closed, meaning we have a slate of Democratic and Republican candidates for all federal offices.
In the US Senate contest, both parties have three candidates. Sen. Mark Kirk is seeking a second term on the Republican side. He faces two minor primary challengers in management consultant James Marter and former congressional candidate Liz Pahlke. The Democrats, as expected, are Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8), state Sen. Napoleon Harris, and Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp. The general election will feature Sen. Kirk and Rep. Duckworth.
Turning to the House races, eight incumbents drew primary challenges, three of which appear formidable.
In Chicago’s 1st District, veteran Rep. Bobby Rush has drawn a trio of Democratic primary opponents. The most serious is Chicago Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. In the last election, Brookins circulated nominating petitions in anticipation of a Rush retirement announcement, but then chose not to file when the congressman decided to seek re-election.
This year, it was thought he might be following that same path but he did not. Brookins is in the contest and will make the challenge. It is doubtful that he can deny Rep. Rush re-nomination. Even President Obama failed to do so back in 2000. Obama, then a state senator, drew only 30 percent against the strong incumbent. The other 1st District Democratic challengers are frequent candidate Harold Bailey and former congressional candidate Patrick Brutus.
Turning to Chicago’s 4th District, Rep. Luis Gutierrez will field a challenge from fellow Democrat Javier Salas, a former local radio and television host along with being an ex-gubernatorial aide. Salas is an immigration reform activist, as well. Rep. Gutierrez will be difficult to dislodge, but this may be a contest worth watching if Salas can attract serious resources.
In southern Illinois’ 15th District, 10-term Rep. John Shimkus faces a Republican challenge from state Sen. Kyle McCarter. Though the state legislator is a formidable candidate it is unclear just how strong he will be against Shimkus. The incumbent begins the campaign as a strong favorite.
The others with minor primary challenges are representatives Robin Kelly (D-IL-2) who has three Democratic opponents, Peter Roskam (R-IL-6) facing two Republicans, Danny Davis (D-IL-7) pitted against two Democrats, while incumbents Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16) will both face a single Republican opponent.
House General Election
In addition to what will be a very competitive US Senate campaign and arguably the Democrats’ best conversion opportunity in the country, several House races will be hotly contested.
In Rep. Duckworth’s open 8th District, a suburban seat northwest of Chicago, a very competitive Democratic primary will likely determine who will be the next House member. Former Deputy State Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi has a large fundraising lead, but state Sen. Michael Noland leads in early polling. Village of Villa Park president Deb Bullwinkel is the third candidate, but it would be surprising if she forges into serious contention. Four Republicans are vying for their party nomination, but the real succession battle here lies in the March Democratic vote.
The northern Chicago suburban 10th District will host its third contest between Rep. Bob Dold (R) and former Rep. Brad Schneider (D). Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering is the second Democratic candidate, but the former congressman is the overwhelming favorite to secure the party nomination. Since both Dold and Schneider have won here, the winner of this rubber match will hold the seat for the next two years.
The presidential turnout model will favor Schneider, but Dold not having to face a ticket led by Illinois favorite son Barack Obama could give him enough of a boost to make a difference in the final outcome. In 2012, Schneider won a 50.6 percent victory with Obama leading the ticket, and turnout topped 264,000 voters. Last year, Dold scored a 51.3 percent upset victory when Republicans won the governor’s race and turnout dropped to 187,128 voters. We can count on another razor-thin outcome in 2014.
Freshman Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL-12) appears to be in strong position for re-election. Democrats have one candidate, labor attorney C.J. Baricevic, but him raising only $177,000-plus in the early going has disappointed national Democratic leaders.
In the swing 13th District, Rep. Rodney Davis (R) won a second term with 59 percent of the vote, after claiming his first term with just 46 percent. This year shapes up well for the incumbent because former Democratic opponent David Gill is filing this year as an Independent. Macon County Board Member Mark Wicklund (D) will have a difficult time overtaking Rep. Davis with another Democrat skimming away votes.
The delegation’s newest member, September special election winner Darin LaHood (R-IL-18) has no primary or general election opposition. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL-5) will face only a Green Party candidate. Assuming they clear their primary challenges, representatives Luis Gutierrez (D), Danny Davis (D), John Shimkus (R), and Adam Kinzinger (R) face no major party general election opposition.