Four Republicans are running in Tuesday's primary election for a
shot at unseating Governor Pat Quinn, who is viewed as honest but
not forceful in a state whose prior governor is in prison for
"Illinois will be one of the primary focuses of traditional
Republican groups and groups that are interested in conservative
economic policy," said Kent Redfield, emeritus professor of
political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
"This is an opportunity to flip a state from Democrat to
Voters in the longtime home of President Barack Obama have chosen a
Democratic governor in every election since 2002. But this year
Republicans see the possibility of victory.
The Republican front-runner ahead of Tuesday's primary is wealthy
venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, a political neophyte who has put $6
million of his own money into the campaign. Those funds as well as
millions in private donations have paid for a blitz of radio and TV
ads that have helped push him past his three more experienced
According to a recent Chicago Tribune poll, Rauner is 13 points
ahead of his closest rival, State Senator Kirk Dillard, who had
served as chief of staff with popular former Republican Governor Jim
Rauner has steered clear of social issues and focused on Illinois'
troubled economy, which has the third-highest unemployment rate in
the country at 8.9 percent. He has criticized other lawmakers,
including Dillard, for taking union money.
Whoever wins Tuesday is expected to face a tough and expensive
contest against Quinn in November, who despite low popularity
ratings and Illinois' continuing fiscal problems will have strong
"Quinn wasn't expected to win last time, but the groundswell of
support from labor unions and regular folks who like him sort of
surprised people," said Dick Simpson, a political science professor
at University of Illinois-Chicago and a former Chicago alderman.
Quinn is expected to win the Democratic primary handily — his only
challenger on Tuesday is Tio Hardiman, a former leader of a Chicago
anti-violence group who was dismissed after being arrested for
domestic battery. That charge was later dropped.
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In the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator from
Illinois, state Senator Jim Oberweis, a multimillionaire dairyman,
is running against businessman and political newcomer Doug Truax.
The winner of that contest will have the imposing task of taking on
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, who has
served in that body for 17 years.
Oberweis is better known and better funded, and was leading Truax by
52 to 15 percent in a February Chicago Tribune poll, though the
Tribune endorsed Truax. Durbin is favored in the general election
In a controversial Chicago city election, Democrat Isaac "Ike"
Carothers, a former Chicago alderman who served prison time for
bribery and tax fraud, is running for commissioner of the Cook
County Board, which handles the court system and health care for the
Chicago metropolitan area.
Because of his support from the local political organization, he
will likely win despite his felony conviction, according to Simpson.
Since the district is heavily Democratic, the primary is the de
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Lisa Shumaker)
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