Illinois primary election
2:34 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Early Voting Opens For Illinois Primary

Early voting opened Monday for the Illinois primary election on Tues., March 18. It extends through March 15. The top races on the Illinois primary ballot are for U.S. senator and governor. But many state legislative and judicial races are also on the ballot.

U.S. Senate race

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat and No. 2 in the Senate, is running unopposed while two Republicans — state Sen.  Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, and businessman Doug Truax — are vying for the GOP nomination to challenge Durbin in November. According to a Tribune/WGN-TV poll conducted in early February, Oberweis leads with 52 percent of those polled while Truax, a rookie candidate from Downer's Grove, had 15 percent. But as the Tribune noted, "one-third of Republican voters said they were undecided in the March 18 primary contest, many of them from downstate."

Oberweis, of Oberweis dairy fame, was a frequent candidate — having run for governor and U.S. senator — before he won his state Senate seat in November 2012. The Tribune recently reported that Oberweis, "who cites his successful push to raise Illinois' speed limit as the top accomplishment of his first year as a state lawmaker, has been ticketed for speeding 11 times since 1988, according to public records."

This is Truax's first run for public office.

Both Republicans have positioned themselves as conservative alternatives to Durbin, with both opposing abortion and a rise in the minimum wage.

Governor's race

Incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has a challenger in his primary: Tio Hardiman, a lawyer and former Cook County assistant state’s attorney and former Cook County assistant public defender,

Four Republicans are running for the GOP guberatorial nomination: State Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford. Among the Republicans, according to a Tribune|WGN poll in February, Rauner was in the lead, with roughly 40 percent of the vote.

One of the major issues in the race is the fate of a temporary income tax increase. The Chicago Tribune reported that neither Quinn nor the GOP contenders have been taken a clear position what should happen:

"Republicans Bruce Rauner and Bill Brady say the tax hike should expire as scheduled come January but offer vague explanations on how they'll deal with the huge hole that will blow in an already shaky state budget. Kirk Dillard and Dan Rutherford say they, too, would like to see the tax increase go away but leave the door open for at least part of it to be extended, again without specifics. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is so queasy about coming down on the fate of the tax hike he once championed that he punted his budget speech until after the March 18 primary election, when he'll know which of the four Republicans he'll face this fall."

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, the Republican incumbent from Taylorville, Ill., may be in one of the most interesting primary challenges. Among his GOP opponents is the 2003 Miss America (and Harvard Law grad) Erika Harold of Urbana, and Michael Firsching, a veterinarian of Moro. All three Republicans oppose the Affordable Care Act.

As the State Journal-Register reported,  "Davis, who worked on the staff of U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, for 16 years, ended up in Congress because former Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, dropped out of the contest after winning the 2012 primary in the new 13th Congressional District." It was a narrow victory over the Democrat in a district that was drawn to be Democratic.

On the Democratic side, three candidates are vying for the nomination: Ann E. Callis, a former judge, of Edwardsville and apparently the party's preferred candidate; George Gollin, a professor from Champaign;  and David L. Green, a social policy analyst from Champaign.

Judicial circuits

The Madison-St. Clair Record reported on the Illinois State Bar Association's poll of judges for the 3rd circuit court seat in Madison County and the 20th circuit seat in St. Clair County. The newspaper that the lawyers' poll favored the Democrats in both races: Madison County Associate Judge Clarence Harrison was recommended over St. Jacob attorney John Barberis, Jr., a Republican. St. Clair County Associate Judge Heinz Rudolf, a Democrat, was rated higher than Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn, a Republican.

For more election information: The Chicago Tribune has assembled its primary coverage into an Election Central page, which includes candidate surveys. The Springfield State Journal Register also has a Election 2014 webpage, including candidate videos. Click here for the Illinois state Board of Elections website.