Eye On Illinois: Democrats getting involved in GOP governor primary


Is there a boundary between legal politics and dirty pool?

If so, it might be found in the Democratic Governors Association’s TV ad – airing in Illinois on Fox News Channel and TBS – specifically targeting Republican gubernatorial candidate and Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.

Illinois GOP Chairman Don Tracy released a statement before the ad dropped suggesting that the DGA should butt out:

“The DGA and the Pritzker campaign, like everyone else that does polling, is watching in real time as Gov. JB Pritzker’s reelection chances plummet under the considerable weight of his own failures and extreme agenda. The Pritzker campaign is desperate and has hatched a plan to launder Pritzker’s inherited wealth through the DGA to begin running ads to interfere in the nomination of our Republican nominee. It’s up to every person in Illinois, including the media, to call out this charade for what it is – a desperate plan from a desperate man with a lot of money. DGA, let Republicans pick our own nominee. Too scared to play fair?”

While the DGA exists to support candidates in every state, strategy is different in open primary states such as Illinois, where voters can request a ballot for any party without being a registered member. The GOP gubernatorial field is well aware of this reality, as more than one candidate – including Irvin – recently has pulled Democratic primary ballots in hopes of influencing a general election race.

In five GOP primaries since 2002, turnout averages 797,000. The June ballot could have up to eight names. Only a plurality is required to advance to challenge Pritzker, so, technically, the winner could emerge with a five-figure total.

The 2010 GOP primary had seven candidates. DuPage County’s Bob Schillerstrom finished last with 7,420 votes, not quite 1%, and former state Sen. Bill Brady won with 20.26% of the total, besting Senate colleague Kirk Dillard by fewer than 200 votes.

In other words, the margins are incredibly important in a deep field with low turnout. While Tracy’s message suggesting Democrats worry about their own campaign is likely to resonate with people already inclined to vote Republican, it also falls flat for those familiar with how politics works in Illinois and puts the party in conflict with some of its own candidates’ records.

My personal issue with the ad is criticizing Irvin’s work as a criminal defense attorney, but only due to a pesky affinity for the Sixth Amendment. I’m also inclined to let one party work out its infighting without external influence, lest voters get the impression one ticket inspires fear in another.

Tracy can’t play favorites now, so striking the DGA is his best move.

Will any of this maneuvering matter? We’ll find out in June.

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

via Shaw Local

April 2, 2022 at 07:50AM

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