June 28? Yes, the state primaries are happening three months later than usual, for which you can blame COVID. COVID delayed the 2020 census. The census determines redistricting — a chain reaction of bureaucratic anguish. But the new date is likely a one-year-only special. The political parties (looking at you, Democratic machine) prefer the traditional March poll date because it keeps voter turnout low, advantaging regular party supporters. Ah, nothing better than living in a healthy democracy! But let’s zero in on the 2022 primaries for a moment. The ballot is stuffed with enough candidates to make your head spin. But no worries. We’ve got you covered.
1st Congressional District
After three decades, Bobby Rush (pastor, Black Panther, only politician to defeat Barack Obama) is retiring from this historic South Side seat, once filled by Oscar DePriest and Harold Washington. In a field as crowded as 31st Street Beach on July Fourth, there are just a few real contenders. Third Ward alderman Pat Dowell has endorsements from a host of legislators and aldermen. Jonathan Jackson has name recognition as son of the Reverend Jesse (he’s not the son who went to prison for campaign fraud!). And Jahmal Cole, founder of My Block, My Hood, My City, began fundraising even before Rush announced his retirement.
6th Congressional District
To create an open seat for a new Latino member of Congress, Illinois reshaped this district, forcing two incumbent suburban Democrats to go head to head: Sean Casten and Marie Newman. This juicy cage match is focused on one question: Did Newman hire her highest-paid aide, Iymen Chehade, as a de facto bribe to prevent him from running against her in 2020? The House Ethics Committee is investigating, and Casten doesn’t want voters to forget. Newman vanquished antiabortion Democrat Dan Lipinski (yikes, remember that guy?) in 2020. That may have garnered her enough goodwill to get across the finish line.
Secretary of State
After six terms, Secretary of State Jesse White, who eased the anxiety of everyone in line for driver’s licenses, is retiring. Democrats vying to replace him: Alexi Giannoulias, former Greek Basket League player and Illinois treasurer (you decide which is more relevant); Chicago city clerk Anna Valencia, endorsed by Senator Dick Durbin; and 17th Ward alderman David Moore, who, like White, promises not to use this as a steppingstone to higher office. Giannoulias is running oh-so-wholesome Alexi-hooping-with-children ads, but he hasn’t served in office since his failed 2010 Senate campaign. Your choice, Illinois: Nice Basketball Dad, or recent governing experience?