WASHINGTON — It’s Primary Day in Illinois. Here are four storylines to watch: Another Tuesday, another day when voters are voting – today, it’s the primary races Illinois. The marquee contests are the Democratic and GOP primaries for governor, where a combined $65 million (!!!) has been spent on TV and radio ads on both sides. And it’s possible that two incumbents — the state’s Republican governor and a Democratic congressman — could go down to defeat.
Here are the four storylines we’re watching:
1. Is Gov. Bruce Rauner in trouble in his GOP primary?
Rauner received a primary challenge from Jeanne Ives, who made national headlines for running a highly controversial ad that included — among other things — a male actor dressed as a woman “thanking” Rauner for “signing legislation that lets me use the girl’s bathroom.” She’s picked up some key conservative allies and donors (including megadonor Richard Uihlein) who accuse Rauner of siding too often with Democratic causes. And the Democratic Governors Association has even been running TV ads calling Ives “too conservative,” which is reminiscent of how Missouri Democrats played in the 2012 primary that Todd Akin ultimately won.
Rauner should still be considered the favorite to win today’s primary in his rocky road to re-election. But political analyst Nathan Gonzales, the editor and publisher of Inside Elections, tweeted last night: “Multiple GOP sources believe Gov. Rauner could lose #ILGov primary tomorrow night, or at least closer than expected for a challenge to a multi-millionaire incumbent governor.” If Rauner loses, he’d be the first Illinois governor seeking re-election to lose a primary in 42 years.
2. Who wins the Dem primary for governor — the billionaire, the Kennedy or the former teacher?
J.B.Pritzker, a billionaire and philanthropist who has put over $60 million of his own money into the race, has long been the frontrunner for the Democratic gubernatorial nod. He’s facing wealthy businessman Chris Kennedy, also from a famous family. (Yes, those Kennedys.) But his other top competitor, state senator and former teacher Dan Biss, is running as the “middle class governor,” emphasizing that his competitors have “never had to struggle.”
Of the two Pritzker rivals, it’s Biss who got some unexpected traction by contrasting his regular-joe pedigree against both of his well-heeled Democratic foes as well as against billionaire incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner. Pritzker is still the favorite, but it’s been a tough race for him — particularly with the amount of money he’s already spending.
3. Does an incumbent Dem congressman go down to defeat?
Democrats have been waging one of the nastiest internal fights of the cycle in this suburban Chicago area. Conservative Democratic incumbent Dan Lipinski, who opposes abortion rights and voted against Obamacare in 2010, has faced blistering attacks from progressive Marie Newman, who’s called him a “Trump Democrat.” The intraparty brawl is ugly, although the winner (unlike in that Texas fight between Laura Moser and the DCCC earlier this month) is expected to cruise to victory in November. And/but: The Republican side of this race is going to keep attracting more embarrassing attention for the GOP. Why? The only Republican on the ballot is Holocaust denier and white supremacist Arthur Jones.
4. Which Democrat comes out ahead in the crowded race to face Peter Roskam in IL-6?
There are seven Democrats vying for the chance to take on Republican Rep. Roskam, who’s held the seat since 2007. It’s an affluent suburban district and a top target for Dems. The top Dem contenders include planning commissioner…