Eye On Illinois: DPI wants to take Iowa’s spot in primary season


I probably think about Iowa more than your average Illinoisan, having lived there for college and newspaper work from 1997 to 2007.

With the exception of the seven Illinois counties that border the Hawkeye State (Jo Daviess, Carroll, Whiteside, Rock Island, Mercer, Henderson and Hancock, if you ever need to win a truly mundane bar bet), the suspicion is that outside college sports, Iowa typically enters a Prairie Stater’s consciousness when they need to get to somewhere more interesting via Interstate 80 or whenever there’s a presidential election on the horizon.

On the latter front, some prominent Illinoisans would like to subvert long-standing convention.

“Illinois represents a true test of what presidential candidates will face across the nation,” U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly wrote last week to Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison. Kelly, a Chicago Democrat who also heads the state party organization, added that “whether measured by race, age, income or education, Illinois remains on par with national averages, just as we were in 2016 when NPR created The Perfect State Index, which considered this exact question and named Illinois the overall winner.”

The DNC will select five states to stage the first 2024 primaries. We should learn the outcome in August.

The Iowa caucus (conducted every even year and which is distinct from the state’s summer primaries) can happen right after New Year’s Day or into early February, but the process plays out for months in advance with candidates popping up at the state fair, in nondescript private homes and all points in between.

Illinois Democrats have moved primaries before, staging the 2008 contest on Feb. 5 in hopes of boosting Barack Obama’s chances at securing the presidential nomination. Since 2012 the primary has been a March event, until this cycle when last summer’s uncertainty about the new political maps prompted a shift to June 28.

Like most things in Illinois, primary dates are at the Democrats’ discretion because Republicans can’t muster the General Assembly votes to dictate otherwise. But that doesn’t mean it’s only a blue issue.

“While Illinois Democrats hold majorities today, the state has been competitive in statewide elections throughout the last decade,” Kelly wrote to Harrison. “With a growing population of Republican voters downstate and a partisan battle still present in the Chicago suburbs, Democrats take Illinois for granted at their own peril.”

But that’s all in the future. As for the present, early voting begins a week from today. That’s also the first day for fulfilling mail-in ballot requests, which are processed until June 23. Even if you don’t plan to pull a primary ballot, now is a good time to confirm registration status and jurisdiction. There’s never a bad time to be a smart voter.

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

May 12, 2022 at 07:02AM

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