As Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker comes to the close of his four-year term, Evanston residents are gearing up for this year’s Illinois Governor’s race primaries on June 28.
The winners of the Democratic and Republican primaries will compete for the governorship in the general midterm elections on Nov. 8. Illinois residents will also vote for their next senator, congressional representatives and other local offices during November’s election.
Local Democratic leaders and activist groups hope to retain the Governor’s mansion. Pritzker is running for re-election and faces healthcare worker and U.S. Army veteran Beverly Miles in the democratic primary.
Natalie Edelstein, the communications director at J.B. for Governor, said Pritzker’s re-election campaign focuses on his accomplishments to date as governor.
“Since day one, [Pritzker] and Lt. Governor Stratton have fought to put Springfield back on the side of working families and have delivered on campaign promises, from raising the minimum wage, to making college more accessible and affordable, to balancing budgets four years in a row,” Edelstein told The Daily.
In the Republican primary, eight candidates are on the ballot for the gubernatorial nomination. Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin (R-Aurora) and state Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) have both gained significant media attention in the Republican race.
Irvin, a former prosecutor, has accused Pritzker of being soft on crime, while Bailey has been campaigning on issues such as the economy, pro-life legislation and Second Amendment rights.
While primary elections usually take place in March, the Illinois General Assembly voted to push the primaries until June 28 to account for delayed 2020 census data.
Rachel Ruttenberg, the board president for the Democratic Party of Evanston, said she is worried that this delay could impact voter turnout in Evanston.
“Even though I know that Evanstonians are typically politically active and passionate about governance, I am concerned that we will be challenged to turn out the votes in late June,” Ruttenberg said.
Nationwide, voter turnout during primary elections is usually lower than in the general election, according to FairVote, an electoral reform advocacy group.
Ruttenberg, however, said he feels opinions on the pandemic economy and Pritzker’s current performance will likely bring residents to the polls.
“We’re strongly behind Governor Pritzker,” Ruttenberg said. “I personally think he’s done a great job, especially navigating the pandemic and keeping Illinoisans as safe as he could, as well as improving our financial situation across the state.”
Rosie Rees, the co-Leader of Indivisible Evanston, said members are most concerned with what candidates have promised to do at the state level to preserve rights that have been debated on a national level. Top issues for the group include gun control, abortion access and voting rights, Rees said.
Blair Garber, the Republican committeeman for Evanston Township GOP, said he expects taxes and the economy will be at the forefront of voters’ minds.
“Not too many people are happy with Pritzker’s tax increases, and his shut downs and all the other stuff he’s been doing,” Garber said.
As the election approaches, candidates’ eyes are on campaign donors. Pritzker, whose family operates Hyatt Hotels, has already invested $125 million into his re-election campaign.
Hedge fund founder and the state’s wealthiest resident Ken Griffin has donated $20 million to Irvin’s campaign. Billionaire Richard Uihlein has donated $3.5 million to Bailey’s campaign.
Nationally, the 2022 midterms elections are expected to pose a challenge for Democratic Party, which currently holds a slim majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The sitting President’s party historically performs poorly during midterms. As President Joe Biden’s approval rating stands at 42%, Garber said he believes there’s been a “seismic shift” nationally toward the Republican party. In last year’s gubernatorial races, Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia and Democrat Phil Murphy narrowly defeated his Republican challenger in New Jersey.
In 2018, Pritzker defeated Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to become governor. Before Rauner, the past two governors of Illinois were Democrats. That year, 84% of Evanston voters supported Pritzker.
In an election where multiple issues and positions rest on the ballot, Rees encourages Evanston residents to flex their civic muscles by going out to the polls on June 28.
“I just would encourage people, and particularly people who are on [NU’s] campus who have the right to vote in this election, to come out and vote,” Rees said.
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May 1, 2022 at 11:02PM