Tuesday’s Primary – What to Watch For

Published on Author Scott KennedyLeave a comment

Here’s a rundown of some of the notable state and local races for Tuesday including their financial profile. These numbers are as of 9pm last night and will update each night so if you’re reading this in a day or two they should be current.

Note: if you’re reading this now this is an old post. It used to contain live campaign spending data but that has been removed since we are now into a new quarter and the data calculation is obsolete.

Cook County State’s Attorney (D)
First, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s race. Donna More just never caught fire and most of her recent funding has come from her or her husband, if there is an enthusiasm for her campaign it hasn’t translated into recent financial filings. Alvarez the incumbent is still seeing some support, particularly with labor and some of the city’s more prominent law firms. But the candidate that has benefited most financially has been Kim Foxx. The caps are off in this race because of Donna More’s self funding and Foxx has been able to take in $600K from Fred Eychaner plus another $250K from Toni Preckwinkle. Additionally an IE with significant funding from George Soros has independently spent over half a million dollars to support her candidacy.

5th House (D)
Next is the mother of all state rep races, the 5th House. This one has already seen a record single donation for the incumbent plus an almost unprecedented endorsement of a sitting US President, for the challenger no less. Ken Dunkin has taken in $800,000 from an organization run by Dan Proft, former Republican candidate for Governor and been the beneficiary of about $2.5 million in IE spending by IllinoisGO, funded by Governor Rauner’s allies. On the other side Stratton is up to almost $2 million from mostly labor money, but also recently many of the campaign committees of the House Democratic caucus, in particular many of the members who are expected to be fall targets and had big influxes of cash late last year. Regardless what happens on Tuesday we’ll probably still be talking about this race 10 or 20 years from now.

50th Senate (R)
Ever since breaking with the Governor’s wishes and siding with organized labor Sam McCann has had a target on his back. His opponent, Bryce Benton, has been endorsed by the Governor and largely financed by him as well. Benton has managed to raise a little more than $100K, $50K of it came from the Governor’s campaign committee, $25K came from Illinois Liberty PAC which is almost the same amount that Illinois Liberty PAC received from the Dan Proft run Illinois Opportunity Project. But Benton’s real muscle in this race has come from the spending of Liberty Principles the IE that is also run by Proft. They have spent over $3 million in this race (and coincidentally received about $2.3 million from the Governor’s IE, Turnaround Illinois). McCann has managed to raise almost $600K this quarter, largely from labor money. This race will test Republican party loyalty enforcement and the outcome will likely have repercussions for the spring budget negotiations.

22nd House (D)
The financial profile for this race is a little misleading, it only shows the Speaker’s candidate committee but he also controls the caucus fund Democratic Majority, the Democratic Party of Illinois fund and the 13th Ward Democratic Org fund, all of which are flush. The challenger, Jason Gonzales, has managed to raise about a quarter million dollars largely from CEO’s and other wealthy retirees and/or investors. But the more interesting development in this race has come from Illinois United for Change, the IE largely funded by former Democratic US Senate candidate Blair Hull and Steven Miller. The wealthy investor and his allies have independently spent over $750K to try to defeat the longtime incumbent Speaker, we’ll find out on Tuesday if it was a good investment.

26th House (D)
A rematch of a hard-fought election last cycle, oddly enough this race has featured various factions of teachers unions on opposite sides. The Chicago Teachers Union has made it a priority to defeat Christian Mitchell and they have been supporting Jay Travis, along with the Illinois Federation of Teachers. On the other side Mitchell has been supported by the Illinois Education Association along with various groups that support charter schools. A number of IE’s have been involved in this race including a labor IE supporting Travis and IllinoisGO and the Illinois Network of Charter Schools supporting Mitchell.

95th House (D)
Incumbent Avery Bourne has been largely supported by the Illinois Republican Party via independent expenditures. Challenger Dennis Scobbie has largely been funded by the IEA, first through a direct max out contribution and later via various affiliated locally named committees. Despite all of these independent expenditures and single source funding this race technically still has contribution limits, although it’s probably the best exhibit for how meaningless our current contribution limit regulations are.

26th Senate (D)
The biggest player in this race has been Liberty Principles, the IE run by former Republican Gubernatorial candidate Dan Proft. They have spent a half million dollars supporting pro-life activist Dan McConchie and in doing so lifted the contribution limits for this race. One of the more surprising developments came when McConchie received a donation from Chicago Bears owner Virginia McCaskey despite the fact that one of his opponents is the brother of Chicago Bears great Brian Urlacher. This lead to some speculation that the former Bears linebacker may step up with some large donations but so far that hasn’t happened, most of Casey Urlacher’s money has come from himself. The third candidate in the race Martin McLaughlin has had the smallest financial impact but has been endorsed by both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.

66th House (R)
This is another race where Liberty Principles spending has been the dominant financial force. They have spent almost a half million dollars supporting Skillicorn and opposing Serwatka and Wilbrandt (note: the spending against Serwatka doesn’t show up due to a spelling error on the filing). Carolyn Schofield has been able to break into six figures largely via a max out donation from the IEA, $40K from Pam Althoff and $5K from incumbent Mike Tryon. Paul Serwatka has also broken six figures but oddly enough it was all in 2015 fundraising, he hasn’t filed a single A-1 so far this quarter.

2nd Senate (D)
Angelica Alfaro, a charter school executive, has been the beneficiary of significant independent expenditures by allied groups including IllinoisGO, Stand for Children and the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. Omar Aquino has been backed with significant organized labor money. This near northwest side Chicago district is too expensive for Chicago TV so this has mostly resulted in lots of mail from each of these candidates and allied IE’s. Lots and lots of mail. Endless mail. I live here, please make it stop, please no more mail.

5th Senate (D)
Incumbent Patricia Van Pelt has been strongly supported by the Illinois Democratic Senate Victory Fund, the caucus committee of President Cullerton. She has also received significant outside help from IE’s IllinoisGO and the Illinois Charter Schools Network. Former Chicago mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti has been hoping to capitalize on his local popularity as the former alderman of what was the 2nd ward prior to the last remap.

102nd House (D)
This race is considered a proxy war between two Republican Governors. Brad Halbrook is supported by Governor Rauner and Dan Proft’s IE Liberty Principles has spent $300K supporting him. On the other side is Jim Acklin who has been endorsed by former Governor Jim Edgar. The TV ads in this race have been brutally negative.

The Rest
As we get farther down the list fewer of these races have enough interesting features to provide a narrative so here’s just a listing of the rest of the general assembly races.

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