Stories about Illinois

A look at contested state legislative primaries in Illinois

Photo of the Illinois State Capitol building

With all 177 state legislative districts in Illinois up for election this year, there are 354 possible primaries. Of that total, 14.4%, or 51, are contested, slightly higher than in 2018 when 45 primaries accounted for 14.3% of that year’s 314 possible primaries.

A primary is contested when more candidates file to run than there are nominations available meaning at least one candidate must lose.

The 51 contested primaries this year include 25 Democratic primaries and 26 for Republicans. For Democrats, this is down from 28 in 2020, an 11% decrease. For Republicans, that number increased 160% from 10 in 2020 to 26 in 2022.

This is also the state’s first cycle since 2014 with more Republican primaries than those for Democrats.

The difference between raw numbers and percentages of contested primaries is due to Illinois’ unique type of 2-4-4 term length system for state senators. This puts more districts up for election in 2022 compared to previous election cycles, which increases the number of possible primaries.

In Illinois, senators are divided into three groups, with each group having a two-year term at a different part of the decade between censuses, with the remainder of the decade taken up by two four-year terms.

In the election immediately following a census, all 59 Senate districts hold elections, starting a new 2-4-4 cycle. All 118 House districts are up for election each cycle.

Of the 177 districts up for election in 2022, 22 are open, meaning no incumbents filed to run. These districts are guaranteed to be won by newcomers and account for 12% of the general assembly.

Of the 155 incumbents who filed for re-election, 25—15 Democrats and 10 Republicans—face primary challengers. This is the largest number of incumbents in contested primaries since 2014.

Overall, 314 major party candidates filed to run for Illinois’ state legislative districts: 160 Democrats and 154 Republicans.

Illinois has been a Democratic trifecta since voters elected Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) in 2018. Democrats currently hold a 40-18 majority in the Senate with one vacancy and a 73-45 majority in the House.

Illinois’ state legislative primaries are scheduled for June 28, the eighth statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

Additional reading:

Six candidates are running in the Democratic primary for Illinois’ 17th Congressional District

Six candidates are running in the Democratic primary for Illinois’ 17th Congressional District on June 28, 2022. Incumbent Rep. Cheri Bustos (D) is not running for re-election. Jonathan Logemann, Angie Normoyle, Eric Sorensen, and Litesa Wallace have led in fundraising.

Logemann, a high school economics and business teacher, has been a member of the Rockford City Council since 2017, representing the 2nd Ward. Logemann said he decided to run because he felt a call to serve his community. Logemann has focused on his background as a teacher and a member of the National Guard, saying, “As a teacher, and with my service in the Illinois National Guard and as an alderman … none of these are glamorous jobs at all, but service to community is something that’s very important to me.” Logemann has also highlighted labor issues, writing, “I am running to raise wages, fight for workplace protections, defend the right to collectively bargain, and ensure our workers are treated fairly.”

Illinois AFL-CIO, the Illinois Education Association, and Vote Vets PAC have endorsed Logemann.

Normoyle has represented the 14th district on the Rock Island County board since 2019. A professor at Augustana College, Normoyle has cited education as a top issue. She has highlighted her work serving on the Moline school board, saying, “During my time on the School Board, we modernized the Moline School District, expanding schools to provide space for alternative learning, art, extracurriculars, and more.” Normoyle has also focused on her ties to the district, saying, “This district has been my home for the majority of my life, and I’m deeply committed to investing in a healthy community. We need more representatives who lead with a local approach – who meet with community leaders, hold open meetings, and listen to community members, not special interests.”

The Leadership Now Project has endorsed Normoyle.

Sorensen, a TV meteorologist in the Quad Cities area, has focused on climate change. Sorensen’s website says, “In Central and Northwest Illinois, we know that climate change is real — whether it was the 2021 summer drought or, the August 2020 derecho with 100 miles per hour winds.” He added, “Now is the time to act, and we need an experienced climate communicator to lead.” Sorensen has also focused on LGBTQ issues and has spoken about experiencing discrimination early in his career. Sorensen said, “[At my first TV job], I was told that I couldn’t be gay and work there. My experiences in Rockford and the Quad Cities were quite different — I was able to be out on TV! And in the Quad Cities, I took a more active role in our LGBTQ community.”

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, Equality PAC, and Climate Hawks Vote have endorsed Sorensen.

Wallace represented the 67th district in the Illinois House of Representatives from 2014 to 2019. A single mother and a mental health counselor, Wallace has focused on childcare issues. Wallace wrote, “When I get to Congress, I will fight hard to expand affordable childcare programs for parents who are working lower-wage jobs or who are in school or training programs.” She added, “Right now, many Illinois parents simply can’t afford to pay for good, reliable childcare. Paying average costs for day care for a 4-year-old would eat up more than half of a minimum wage worker’s annual income — and care for an infant would cost almost three-fourths of that worker’s paycheck.” In 2018, Wallace ran in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor of Illinois on the ticket of gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss (D), losing 45.1% to 26.7%.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers, Democracy for America, and the Illinois chapter of the SEIU have endorsed Wallace.

The lines of the 17th district changed after re-districting. According to FiveThirtyEight, the old district had a partisan lean of R+5, while the new district has a partisan lean of D+4. One election forecaster rates the general election Tilt Democratic, while two rate it a Toss-up, suggesting it will be competitive.

Jacqueline McGowan and Marsha Williams are also running in the primary.

Incumbent Krishnamoorthi faces challenger Ahmed in Democratic primary for Illinois’ 8th Congressional District

Incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi and Junaid Ahmed are running in the Democratic primary for Illinois’ 8th Congressional District on June 28, 2022.

Krishnamoorthi was first elected to represent the 8th District in 2016. Before entering office, Krishnamoorthi was a partner at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, president of a research and development company, and a policy director on former President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2004.

Krishnamoorthi, who immigrated to the U.S. as a child, emphasized his experience in office and said he “has worked his hardest to ensure other Americans have the same opportunities his family had to achieve the American Dream.” He said he “co-authored successful legislation to expand federal support for career and technical education” and “[advocated] for protecting Social Security and Medicare.” Krishnamoorthi received endorsements from the Chicago Tribune and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Ahmed worked in professional services and information technology consulting and highlighted his volunteer experience with organizations including Meals on Wheels and organizing events on universal healthcare.

In a Candidate Connection survey submitted to Ballotpedia, Ahmed said, “I believe that economic justice, healthcare, and education are basic human rights,” adding, “Tuition-free education, Medicare for All, and a federal jobs program are policies that are supported by the vast majority of voters on both sides of the aisle and yet year after year, working people continue to struggle with no relief offered from our representatives.” Ahmed received endorsements from Our Revolution and Peace Action.

Krishnamoorthi raised the 10th most money of all House Democratic incumbents this cycle, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. As of March 31, Krishnamoorthi raised $5.6 million and Ahmed raised $826,832.

Ahmed criticized Krishnamoorthi on this point, saying, “[W]e are being represented by a political class who are more interested in representing the needs of their corporate donors … than in representing the needs of the hard working families of the 8th district.”

In a debate hosted by the Daily Herald, Krishnamoorthi said, “I raise as much as I can because I go after the special interests in Washington … You can ask the rental car companies, the meat processing companies, the oil and gas companies that I’m now investigating what they think of me.”

Following redistricting, the 8th District remained in the Chicago area. As of June 2022, three race forecasters rated the general election as Solid or Safe Democratic.

Four candidates running in Illinois secretary of state Democratic primary

Four candidates are running in the Democratic Party primary for Illinois secretary of state on June 28, 2022. Alexi Giannoulias and Anna Valencia have led in media attention, fundraising, and endorsements. David Moore and Sidney Moore are also running.

Giannoulias served as Illinois state treasurer and was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Illinois in the 2010 general election. Former Gov. Pat Quinn (D) appointed Giannoulias as chairman of the Illinois community college system in 2011. Giannoulias also worked as a professor and founded the Kanela Breakfast Club Restaurant Group. Giannoulias said he is running because “[n]ow more than ever, we need good people, committed to true public service, to step up, get involved and serve the public for the right reasons. I’m running because I wholeheartedly believe in public service, which is guided by the principle of rebuilding that trust.”

Valencia has been Chicago’s city clerk since 2017. Valencia worked for the campaigns of Sen. Dick Durbin (D), Sen. Gary Peters (D), and Rep. Mike Quigley (D), and as director of legislative counsel and government affairs in the Chicago mayor’s office. Valencia said she “will fight to improve services by increasing transparency, modernizing state government, and focusing on more flexible services” and “will be a voice for people who often don’t see themselves in state leaders like downstaters, working families, moms, and people of color.”

Describing the dynamics of the race, the Chicago Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner said, “Giannoulias and Valencia have made ethics a central issue in the race for an office that has a history of corruption in Illinois.” Giannoulias said Valencia, as Chicago City Clerk, should have been more transparent about her husband’s work as a lobbyist. “She’s currently married to someone who lobbies the city of Chicago that she serves, and yet she says that if she’s elected, she says she won’t (vouch for him) then,” Giannoulias said. “My opponent wants to distract from his 10 years of being MIA, and then popping up to run,” Valencia said.

Valencia criticized Giannoulias’ handling of Bright Start, the state’s college savings fund, during his time as state treasurer and said the bank Giannoulias’ family founded, Broadway Bank, made “sketchy loans to mobsters.” Giannoulias said he was “very proud of the work I did as state treasurer. We ran one of most ethical offices in the country,” adding that Broadway Bank “helped tens of thousands of people achieve the American dream.”

Incumbent Jesse White (D), who did not seek re-election, was first elected to the secretary’s office in 1998. In the last general election, White defeated Jason Helland (R) 68% to 29%.

Davis and Collins run in Democratic primary for U.S. House in Illinois’ 7th District

Incumbent Danny K. Davis (D), Kina Collins (D), and Denarvis Mendenhall (D) are running in the Democratic primary for Illinois’ 7th Congressional District on June 28, 2022. Davis has represented the district in Congress since 1997. Davis and Collins have received the most media attention and funding in this race.

Prior to serving in Congress, Davis served on the Chicago City Council for eleven years as alderman of the 29th Ward. He also served on the Cook County Board of Commissioners from 1990 to 1996. He was elected to the U.S. House to represent Illinois’ 7th Congressional District in 1996 and still holds this office. While in Congress, Davis serves on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Progressive Caucus. Davis’ reelection has been endorsed by the governor of Illinois, both U.S. senators from the state, the mayor of Chicago, and others.

Collins became a protest organizer in the wake of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald and founded the Chicago Neighborhood Alliance in 2017 to help end gun violence through civic engagement. Collins ran unsuccessfully in the 7th District’s 2020 Democratic primary. She has also served on the transition team and task force for gun violence prevention under President Joe Biden (D). Collins’ campaign has been endorsed by several alderman in the 7th district and the national political organizations Indivisible, Justice Democrats, and the National Organization for Women.

Davis has focused his campaign on familiarity with the district’s voters, saying “This is my community…This is my home. This is my life.” Davis’ campaign yard signs read, “Re-elect Danny Davis. He’s someone you know,” and his campaign website highlights his congressional voting record and seniority on congressional committees and caucuses.

Despite agreeing with Davis on most political issues, Collins’ campaign has focused on providing the district with a fresh voice in Washington. Collins emphasizes the fact that Davis has represented the district since she was in kindergarten and says that it is time for a change. She says, “ I’m not just running to be the congresswoman in the Illinois 7th, but to talk about a vision for the Democratic Party, which includes young people, people of color, women, and those who do not come from traditional political backgrounds.” Analysts have described this primary race as a bellwether for generational tensions within the Democratic Party.

Before the primary, the Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Inside Elections all rated Illinois’ 7th Congressional District as a solid/safe Democratic seat. This means that the winner of the Democratic primary is also likely to win the general election.

Illinois sees the most candidates running for the U.S. House since at least 2014

The filing deadline for candidates running for Congress in Illinois this year was March 14, 2022. Ninety-five candidates are running for Illinois’ 17 U.S. House districts, including 47 Democrats and 48 Republicans. That’s 5.59 candidates per district, more than the 4.05 candidates per district in 2020 and the 4.39 in 2018.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census, which resulted in Illinois losing one U.S. House district. 
  • The 95 candidates running this year are the most candidates running for Illinois’ U.S. House seats since at least 2014, the earliest year for which we have data.
  • There are two districts where two incumbents are running against each other. Rep. Marie Newman (D), who represents the 3rd district, is running against incumbent Rep. Sean Casten (D) in the 6th district. Rep. Rodney Davis (R), who represents the 13th district, is running against incumbent Rep. Mary Miller (R) in the 15th district. 
  • Four seats, including Newman’s 3rd and Davis’ 13th, are open, the most since at least 2014. Rep. Bobby Rush (D), who represents the 1st district, and Rep. Cheri Bustos (D), who represents the 17th district, are retiring. 
  • Twenty-one candidates are running in the 1st district to replace Rush, the most candidates running for a seat this year.
  • There are 19 contested primaries this year, the fewest since 2016, when there were 14 contested primaries. Eight of the contested primaries are Democratic, and 11 are Republican.
  • Eight incumbents — one Republican and seven Democrats — are not facing any primary challengers.
  • The 7th district is guaranteed to Democrats because no Republicans filed, and the 16th district is guaranteed to Republicans because no Democrats filed. 

Illinois and four other states — Colorado, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah — are holding primary elections on June 28. In Illinois, the winner of a primary election is the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes, even if he or she does not win an outright majority of votes cast.

Additional reading:

Incumbents Sean Casten and Marie Newman are running in the Democratic primary for Illinois’ 6th Congressional District on June 28

Sean Casten, Marie Newman, and Charles Hughes are running in the Democratic primary for Illinois’ 6th Congressional District on June 28, 2022. Casten and Newman are members of the U.S. House of Representatives running for re-election in the same district due to redistricting. They have led in fundraising and media attention.

Newman represents Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District. Casten is the incumbent in the current 6th district, but the district lines are different this year due to redistricting. According to political researcher Frank Calabrese, 41% of the constituents in the new district come from Newman’s district and 23% come from Casten’s. Two election forecasters rate the general election as Likely Democratic, while one rates it as Lean Democratic, meaning the primary winner will likely have an edge in the general election.

Both Casten and Newman have cited climate change as a top issue. Casten, a member of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the co-founder of an energy recycling company, said he supported market-based climate change legislation. Casten has introduced several climate-related bills while in Congress, including the End Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies Act, a measure to reduce certain subsidies for oil companies. Newman supports the Green New Deal and sponsored the America’s Clean Future Fund Act, a measure to impose a carbon fee on the use of certain fuels and use the proceeds to fund clean energy initiatives.

The League of Conservation Voters and Clean Energy for America have endorsed Casten. The Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition have endorsed both Casten and Newman.

Both incumbents have also focused on abortion. Newman has spoken about her experience getting an abortion when she was 19 years old, saying, “It was not a shameful act. No woman should feel guilty for making a decision over her body, no matter the circumstances.” Newman added, “It is very clear that if we don’t have quality access to abortion health care, women will die.” Newman has criticized Casten for voting for George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, Republicans she described as anti-choice.

Casten said his voting record was 100% pro-choice. In a campaign ad, Casten said, “Women have a fundamental right to make their own decisions, especially when it comes to abortion.” Casten added, “I fought against defunding Planned Parenthood. I always have and always will oppose any measure, any attempt, to diminish or take away your rights.”

Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) have endorsed both Casten and Newman. EMILY’s List has endorsed Newman.

Casten has criticized Newman for not disclosing the details of a settlement between her and a man who said Newman offered him a job in exchange for him not to run against her in the 2020 Democratic primary. Newman has called the allegations a distraction and said Casten should address an FEC complaint alleging that his campaign coordinated with a Super PAC during the 2018 Democratic primary.

Newman was first elected in 2020. That year, she defeated incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski (D) in the Democratic primary. In 2020, Newman won the general election 56.4% to 43.6%.

Casten was first elected in 2018 after defeating six-term incumbent Rep. Peter Roskam (R) 53.6% to 46.4%. Casten won re-election in 2020 52.8% to 45.4%. Casten’s win in 2018 was the first time a Democrat won in the 6th district since 1972.

As of May 2022, six U.S. House races had two incumbents running for the same congressional district in the 2022 elections.

Six candidates running in the Illinois Republican gubernatorial primary

Six candidates are running in the Republican primary for governor of Illinois on June 28, 2022. Darren Bailey and Richard Irvin have led the field in fundraising and media coverage.

Bailey is a farmer who serves in the Illinois State Senate. He was first elected to office in 2020. In his campaign ads, Bailey has highlighted his support for reducing taxes and government spending, law enforcement, and Donald Trump (R), along with his opposition to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D). A campaign ad said, “In Springfield, Darren stood up for working families and fought against every single tax increase. When Governor Pritzker tried to close Illinois, Darren sued him and won to keep our state open. Now, Darren is running for governor with a plan to cut our taxes, fund our police, and impose term limits on politicians.”

Irvin is an attorney who has served as mayor of Aurora, Illinois, since he was elected in 2017. Irvin’s campaign ads have highlighted his work as a prosecutor and his support for increasing police department budgets, his experience as a veteran, his opposition to J.B. Pritzker, and his economic record as mayor of Aurora. A campaign ad said, “Running our second-largest city, crime’s come down because the police budget has gone up. I hired more cops each year. We’ve recruited new companies […] and we’ve controlled spending, balanced budgets, so residents got property tax relief. My city is now stronger, safer, and full of opportunity. I want that for Illinois.”

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Tina Sfondeles wrote, “Rather than on debate stages, the race is largely being played out via millions of dollars worth of competing TV campaign ads.” In Illinois, individual campaign contribution limits in state races are lifted if a candidate in the race self-funds to a certain threshold. As of May 2022, Bailey and Irvin had received noteworthy individual campaign contributions, among them $9 million in contributions to Bailey from businessman Richard Uihlein and $50 million in contributions to Irvin from hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin.

Gary Rabine, Paul Schimpf, Max Solomon, and Jesse Sullivan are also running in the primary. Bailey is running with lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Stephanie Trussell, Irvin with Avery Bourne, Rabine with Aaron Del Mar, Schimpf with Carolyn Schofield, Solomon with Latasha Fields, and Sullivan with Kathleen Murphy.

Illinois has had a Democratic governor since the 2018 election of Pritzker, who defeated then-incumbent Bruce Rauner (R) 55% to 39%. As of May 2022, The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections rated the 2022 general election as Solid Democratic, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball rated the race as Likely Democratic.

Illinois governor signs measure to pay $2.7 billion of unemployment fund debt

Photo of the Illinois State Capitol building

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed an amendment to Senate Bill 2803 on March 25 allocating $2.7 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to help pay down the state’s $4.5 billion Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund debt. The state will still have $1.8 billion of outstanding debt in the fund.

As of March 23, Illinois owed the U.S. Treasury about $41 million of interest on the trust fund’s debt, due September 30. ARPA funds cannot be used to pay interest to the federal government, so the state would have to pay the interest out of its General Revenue Fund.

States usually have to raise state unemployment insurance taxes on employers, reduce benefits paid to claimants, or tap into another source of cash (such as federal funds or funds from another state account) to pay down unemployment trust fund balances.

Unemployment insurance is a term that refers to a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

For more information on Illinois’ unemployment insurance program, click here. For information about unemployment insurance programs across the country, click here.

Additional reading:

Illinois to stop debit card unemployment insurance payments

Photo of the Illinois State Capitol building

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced on Nov. 22, 2021, that unemployment insurance payments through state-issued debit cards would end starting Dec. 27, 2021. IDES said payments would continue through paper checks and direct deposit. Claimants will still be able to access the funds on their debit cards after December 27 until their cards expire. 

KeyBank, the debit card vendor for IDES, decided to stop providing the debit cards but did not provide a reason for the change.

Unemployment insurance is a term that refers to a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

For more information on Illinois’ unemployment insurance program, click here. For information about unemployment insurance programs across the country, click here.

Additional reading: