Illinois Primary: Who Will Take on Blagojevich?
Voters in Illinois today will choose party nominees for governor and representatives in 19 congressional districts. Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) is a heavy favorite over his Democratic primary opponent, and state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka (R) appears to be his likely rival in the fall. Only a few House primaries are worth watching, with the open 6th District race leading the pack.
Here's a quick look at what to watch for.
* Republican gubernatorial primary: This is a crowded field as a number of Republicans see the ethics problems swirling around the Blagojevich administration as a potential winning issue despite the state's Democratic tilt. As we mentioned above, Topinka is the best-known candidate in the field and has led in polling throughout, bolstered by an endorsement spot by popular former Gov. Jim Edgar. Wealthy businessmen Ron Gidwitz and Jim Oberweis have been pouring their own money into the race in the final days, but state Sen. Bill Brady is the one moving in late tracking polls, according to one source familiar with the survey research. Whoever wins faces an intriguing challenge in Blagojevich. While polls show him under 50 percent, he is sitting on a $15 million campaign war chest -- a huge financial gap to make up for either the GOP nominee or the Republican Governors Association.
* Illinois 6th District: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) has a lot on the line in the primary between 2004 nominee Christine Cegelis and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth. Emanuel personally recruited Duckworth into the open-seat contest to replace retiring Rep. Henry Hyde (R) and has helped direct considerable national dollars to her campaign -- including an e-mail appeal from Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry. As a result, Duckworth had raised $518,000 through March 1 and had $122,000 in the bank. Cegelis had raised a respectable $320,000 by the first of the month with $75,000 left to spend. The Democratic nominee will face off against state Sen. Peter Roskam, who has enjoyed support from the party establishment in the state and Washington for months. The district went narrowly to President Bush in 2004 -- 53 percent to 47 percent.
* Illinois 8th District: Republicans see freshman Rep. Melissa Bean (D) as the single most endangered Democratic incumbent in the country. Their optimism is largely due to the strongly GOP nature of the district, which gave Bush 56 percent of the vote in 2004. A crowded primary field is lining up to face Bean, with businessman David McSweeney and attorney Kathy Salvi emerging as the twin frontrunners. Bean has given whichever Republican wins very few openings with her voting record. And to defeat her, Republicans will need to buy time in the costly Chicago media market. Bean had a whopping $1.5 million in the bank at the start of March.
Reminder: The Fix is on vacation this week. My editors will post Illinois primary results here tomorrow morning.
March 21, 2006; 11:07 AM ET
Categories: Governors , House
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