The No Nail Biter
The question isn’t “Who will win?” (The answer to that is almost certainly J.B. Pritzker.) It’s “How badly will Bruce Rauner lose?” Rauner, who squeaked out a Republican primary win over Jeanne Ives, is the nation’s most vulnerable governor, and polls predict he will suffer the worst defeat ever by an Illinois incumbent, surpassing Dwight Green’s 14-point loss to Adlai Stevenson in 1948.
Beauty Queen Wave vs. Blue Wave
Downstate Republican Erika Harold is promising to take on “the Madigan Machine” of House speaker Michael Madigan and his daughter Lisa, who has held this office since 2003. With her ritzy résumé (Harvard Law grad, Miss America 2003) and an openness to legalizing marijuana, Harold should be a strong contender. But Democratic state senator Kwame Raoul has effectively focused on her opposition to gay marriage and abortion in his attack ads — social conservatives are about as popular as Packers fans in Illinois — and leads her in the polls.
Republicans will be praying for a huge loss to Representative Dan Lipinski (and they’re likely to get it). That’s because their nominee, Art Jones, is a onetime Nazi who calls the Holocaust “a racket.” The better he fares, the worse his party looks.
This district is one of the battlegrounds where the Democratic fight for control of the House will play out. Republican Peter Roskam, the incumbent, has easily taken the past six elections in the well-educated, mostly white district. But Hillary Clinton also won here in 2016. Roskam’s opponent, clean energy entrepreneur Sean Casten, has staunchly criticized Trump. Pundits rate the race a tossup.
It would take a Democratic tidal wave to sweep Lauren Underwood, the first black woman to ever run in her district, to victory over Representative Randy Hultgren, but she’s created new excitement in voters that could shake up the consistently Republican bloc. Ben & Jerry’s is trying to help by naming a flavor after the progressive Naperville Dem.
ILLINOIS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Democrats need four seats to regain a 71-seat supermajority, which would allow them to pass a constitutional amendment for a graduated income tax. A bellwether is Kankakee, where incumbent first-term Republican Lindsay Parkhurst is facing former state representative Lisa Dugan. Both parties are spending heavily on the race.
Chicagoans will vote on three issues, including whether potential legal marijuana sales should benefit schools and mental health clinics. Aldermen don’t actually care what we think about these matters. They put them on the ballot to crowd out former guv Pat Quinn’s referendum on limiting Chicago mayors to two terms, which became less pressing when Rahm dropped out.
Kane and DuPage Counties
Voters in the west suburbs face advisory questions about whether each county should oppose a state property tax increase. Is such a tax hike imminent? Probably not. But the questions — and the ads Republicans will take out promoting them — could help bring conservative voters to the polls.