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Quinn wants September primary

Friday, Jan 30, 2009

* They might move the primary back to March, where it once was, but political types have always been leery of a late-year primary. It’s just a whole lot easier to control turnout in the early months…

Gov. Pat Quinn said today he wants state lawmakers to push back the state’s primary election from February to September in an effort to shorten the campaign season.

Standing outside his Capitol office, Quinn said the state’s lengthy campaign season breeds corruption because of the constant pressure for candidates to raise money.

“This should be a year of reform, a year of governance,” Quinn said. “We don’t need perpetual campaigns and perpetual campaign fund raising in Illinois.” […]

Lawmakers moved the primary from March to February in 2007 in an effort to boost Barack Obama’s efforts to get to the White House. Other states, including New York, shorten the time between the primary and general election with the idea of cutting down the length of campaign season.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - bored now - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:20 pm:

    well, i hail from a state that has a september primary (florida) and it doesn’t always work as people expect. perhaps the biggest problem is the proximity to labor day and the fact that many people are out of the area in august.

    personally, i prefer a may primary, as it is more predictable all around…

  2. - montrose - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:21 pm:

    Has it actually helped in other states? If so, I am all for it. I just find it hard to believe that simply shifting the primary date will really impact how much time and energy is spent on raising and spending campaign money.

  3. - Chicago Law Student - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:22 pm:

    Move it to June - that is when Iowa has its primary - it is a perfect medium. The people of Illinois don’t need almost a year for a general election (Feb. primary) - but just two months is not a long enough time for voters. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt if the State of Illinois started to emulate the State of Iowa - say what you want about that state - but it runs efficiently and ethically.

  4. - HunkerDown - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:23 pm:

    There’s somewhat of a fallacy in thinking that moving the date really accomplishes anything. While I admire the new Gov’s spirit and intent, it may have unintended consequences…A prime example? For years people wanted the Illinois primary to mean something…so we moved the date up thinking we’d get some meaning out of it and boost Obama’s chances…what happened? We got lost in the fray of Super Duper Tuesday and went pretty much un-noticed whereas if we had stayed where we were in the line-up or even pushed it back it may have played a more pivotal role and garnered more attention.

    Somethings, you just can’t tinker and know for sure what will happen.

  5. - Phil Collins - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:23 pm:

    Moving the primary to Sept. wouldn’t shorten the length of time that candidates spend campaign and/or fundraising. Candidates for the primary would announce their campaigns the previous year, and they would have seven more months, to campaign and raise money.

  6. - scoot - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:23 pm:

    My first initial thought was move it back to March, maybe even April. I feel that we need 6 months of a general election.

    A couple months is too short…even though Labor Day is the unofficial campaign kickoff date..I feel we need more time to know the candidates.

  7. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:25 pm:

    I tend to be in favor of at least reducing the time between the primary and the general election in the abstract. Of course, doing so now would also have the potential to benefit our new governor as he would have more time to establish himself in the office before having to run.

  8. - scoot - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:25 pm:

    As for the problem with money & donations etc…pass the legislation to take care of that.

  9. - Far Northsider - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:30 pm:

    All for anything that cuts down campaign season.

  10. - Cook citizen - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:30 pm:

    Would be a huge reform. Illinois has the earliest primary in the nation. It makes campaigns unnecessarily expensive and suppresses voter turnout.

    It will be hard to change because so many entrenched incumbents like the idea of low voter turnout and expensive elections. After all, they’ve got organizations and special interest money.

    Because we’re in a perpetual campaign, every government decision is filtered through pure politics.

    This is a REAL test of reform. If Illinois isn’t willing to move its elections to warm weather, a reasonable distance from the general election, then it proves the legislators who acted so admirably in the impeachment process are back to business as usual.

  11. - Redbright - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:31 pm:

    I think the electorate will support anything that shortens the campaign cycles.

  12. - Ghost - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:32 pm:

    On its face it sounds like a good idea. But wouldn’t it given an advanatge to established or connected canidates who can raiselarge amounts of money quickly? I would be concerned that less established canidates would be pushed out by the inability to quickly build up camapign resources. Perhaps something later then feb but earlier then Spet would be better.

  13. - Cal Skinner - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:33 pm:

    When I first ran for McHenry County Treasurer in 1966, the primary election was June 13th.

    Perfect for an outsider who was willing to knock on doors.

    The obvious reason for an early primary is to keep outsiders from even hearing about the election until it is too late to file.

    September strikes me as a bit late, but it most certainly is better than Feb. or March…unless you want every incumbent to have more of an advantage than he/she already has.

  14. - MikeintheSuburbs - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:35 pm:

    The real impact of moving the primary is on the more local races. The statewide races are media driven whereas the local races rely more on door to door. It’s very hard to do the doorbell ringing in the dead of winter, which is why the primaries are at that time. The only people who can be induced to go out at then are the ones whose jobs depend on it, like in Chicago. I ought to know, I was a precinct worker in Chicago and have been a candidate in the suburban area where I now live. I just finished having to collect signatures to get on the ballot for re-election to my non partisan office and it was COLD. I would much rather have done it in June.

  15. - Scooby - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:35 pm:

    Primaries are internal elections for political parties and general elections are open elections for the people. Moving the date to lengthen the amount of time for political party primaries while reducing the amount of time for open general elections runs counter to the spirit of inclusiveness.

  16. - TaxMeMore - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:36 pm:

    Quinn is just about the last person in this state we should be listening to about election reforms. Quinn just wants the primary moved back so he isn’t embarrassed for a such long a period of time between when he loses the Democrat primary and the election. 8 months as an installed Governor who then lost a primary won’t do much for Quinn’s ability to “lead” during that time.

    If Quinn cares about democratic elections, he should make the requirements to get on the ballot the same for everyone instead of the current system that protects corrupt incumbents while discriminating against people that actually stand up against corruption. Quinn is a self-serving political hack that needs to be impeached next.

  17. - JonShibleyFan - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:39 pm:

    This would certainly help if a candidate who is not great at fund raising but had the power of incumbency, let’s call him “Matt Flynn” were running against a candidate who could raise lots of money, let’s call her “Lina Haddigan.”

    As such, I guess it stands little chance of legislative passage.

  18. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:40 pm:

    @TaxMeMore, please take a breath. You want impeachment for what? Allegedly trying to avoid embarassment?

    You’re nuts, man.

    We’ve impeached and removed precisely one governor since 1818. You’re gonna need more than that flimsy excuse.

    Go away.

  19. - Quinn T. Sential - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:45 pm:

    We are pleased to announce that Blago Sphere has taken much deserved early retirement. Quinn T. Sential has just recently joined us and has assumed all of Blago Sphere’s duties and responsibilities.

    Please help welcome Quinn T. Sential as the newest member of our organization.

  20. - Captain Flume - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:46 pm:

    September is a good starting point for discussion. Yes, a late year primary date would give candidates for a party’s nomination more time to raise money, but also give the public more time to scrutinize who is raising money and how it is being raised, and also to scrutinize candidates more closely on issues (I know my idealism is showing here). A late year primary would also raise more uncertainty in contributors’ minds as to whom to back. Come the general election, many contributors might be tapped out and the candidates would be relying on less money to actually run for the office itself.

    I also believe that there should be open primaries where a voter does not have to declare a party to vote in a primary. Barring an open primary, mandate that the public not be billed for the cost of a primary and the cost be picked up by the political parties of the candidates on the ballot.

  21. - Secret Square - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:47 pm:

    Could we reinstitute the ban on mention of the I-word in relation to anyone other than RRB and in anything other than the past tense or in the theoretical sense (i.e. should standards or rules be changed for the future) until further notice? We really need a break from it!

  22. - HoBoSkillet - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:48 pm:

    I ditto what Captain Flume stated.

  23. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:50 pm:

    Secret Square, my sentiments exactly. People need to chill out now.

  24. - Quinn T. Sential - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:53 pm:

    I’m new to the job here so correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn’t moving the primary to September allow Governor more time to build up his own campaign treasury before he seeks re-nomination?

    Considering that his account lags so far behind all other potential contenders that currently hold statewide office, wouldn’t this to be to the Governor’s advantage in allowing him an opportunity to come from way behind in order to catch up?

    On the surface this seems like one of his first proclamations is less noble, and somewhat disingeniously self serving if this is the case.

    Also; with a September primary wouldn’t this take all the fun out of circulating nominating petitions in the absolute dead of winter? Who wants to go around circulating petitions in shorts and golf shirts when you can have twice the fun doing that in parkas, with hats and gloves on?

    What am I missing here?

  25. - Wumpus - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:55 pm:

    Since Jindhal and Palin are already running for 2012, it won’t work. This may help incumbents, no? This is not duck or wabbit season, there are no set dates.

  26. - Secret Square - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:56 pm:

    As for the primary date question, split the difference and have it in May or June, at least in non-presidential years.

    For presidential elections I’d like to see a system of at least four rotating, nationwide regional primaries (Northeast, South, Midwest and West) spaced about 4 weeks apart from February-March through May-June. Each election cycle a different region would get to go first, and each region should be roughly equal in the number of electoral votes at stake. This would break up the front-loaded Super Duper Tuesday phenomenon and enable candidates to campaign in one region at a time and highlight issues of importance to that region.

  27. - unspun - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:59 pm:

    Two thoughts:
    1. Good luck getting the Speaker on board.
    2. It may favor the Republicans in the next Gov. election. If the Dems have a bloody primary, the meat will still be fresh from the butcher, thereby saving GOP candidate money that would have been spent on negative ads.

  28. - Lakefront Liberal - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:01 pm:

    This is a fantastic idea. I agree with others that September might be a bit late, but perhaps he is starting with September so there is room to compromise for something around June or so, which would be ideal.

    The February primary is insane — since many of our elected offices are basically decided in the primary, this effectively makes the campaign season almost 2 years long — and many of these offices only have 2 year terms! Enough! Plus, as others have pointed out, if you are trying to operate a grassroots campaigns with volunteers, it is really, really hard to get people out there knocking on doors in January when it is freezing, and almost worse in November and December when everyone has holiday plans. I have worked on campaigns where we have volunteers who are elderly and it seems almost cruel to try to get them to go out in below-freezing weather to walk on icy sidewalks knocking on doors. But that is when the election is so what choice do we have?

    And yes, the February primary favors people who want low turn-out and who have people they can force to do campaign work for them (i.e. patronage workers), or who don’t care about field and only want to do media.

    Don’t get me wrong — if the choice is September or February I would gladly pick September. And in fact maybe that would even be the best. Candidates have the primary election to get their campaign together, once that is in place, and if you win your primary, that still gives you two months to communicate your general election message.

    I was just thinking this morning that the next thing we need to do is start trying to rally support for moving the primary and now here Quinn is already calling for it. Good for him!

    I don’t know how much it would help lessen the ammount of money raised — but as pointed out we can do seperate legislation for that. But people are tired of endless campaigns and I think this will be a hugely popular idea.

  29. - OneMan - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:02 pm:

    Not a bad idea, may also make it easier to staff and train up folks for the election. Might also save candidates a few bucks as well.

  30. - MOON - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:04 pm:

    With all of the problems facing our state why would anyone, especially at this time, bring up the issue of when the primary should be held?

    As I stated sometime ago, Quinn is already thinking only of himself, and what would be the easiest way to get elected!

    Gov. Quinn I have a suggestion. Forget about the timing of the next election. Do a good job and the voters will reward you!

  31. - From the Sidelines - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:05 pm:

    I applaud the late primary idea. People get sick of elections and don’t focus on them until the end. Consolidating the election season to two or so months would be a major improvement.

    Also, it should be pointed out we used to have the general election for state offices in August and the federal election in November back in the 19th Century.

  32. - southsider - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:06 pm:

    Admittedly more practical than political, February is a horrible time to have a primary. It’s hard to get voter turnout, people just don’t go out unless absolutely necessary. Having February primaries truly only serves those who are already in power.
    Not to mention the selfish reason of not wanting to do any more door knocking in January!

  33. - Levois - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:20 pm:

    Whatever happened to that lawsuit where Quinn wanted another con-con referendum?

  34. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:26 pm:

    I like May better. Fall football season is OK for petition circulation, but it’s only once a week. A May primary would put petition circulation into basketball season, which is nice because there are more games and they are indoors.

  35. - VanillaMan - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:34 pm:

    Quinn said the state’s lengthy campaign season breeds corruption because of the constant pressure for candidates to raise money.


    I sure hope he uses better logic that this regarding statewide issues, or we’re doomed.

    If he wants to shorten the campaign season, give us a real reason for doing so. Don’t pretend that it will eliminate corruption. These are two different things. Claiming that one effects the other is ridiculous. There is absolutely no proof.

    Governor Quinn, you need to do a better job explaining why you support your views than using an apples and oranges logic, as you are doing here.

  36. - Scooby - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:35 pm:

    This idea that cold weather hurts turnout seems kind of silly to me. Sure if there’s a blizzard or rain, turnout suffers, and that’s true no matter what the season is. But it’s not like your polling place is the 50 yard line of the frozen tundra, you vote inside, in buildings that have heat. People still go to work in February, they still go to school in February. Perhaps they’re not so delicate afterall.

  37. - 32nd Ward Roscoe Village - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:39 pm:

    I come from a corruption-free state (Kansas) and our primary was August and it was perfect–September is probably better if people think too many citizens are on vacation in August. In England they have election seasons that last 6 weeks. Let’s reform this.

  38. - Sangamon - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:39 pm:

    I ditto what Moon said. I was just waiting for someone to say it.

    How about a meeting with those employees that have been laid off from their state jobs and seeing what can be done about it.

  39. - Huntingwithaswitch - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:47 pm:

    Hold onto your hat fellas, Quinn’s gearing up to introduce his new tax hike plan.

  40. - Y2D - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:51 pm:

    May or June … 5-6 months should be more than enough time.

    I’ve had to put Gov Quinn’s name on over 100 different documents already today. I’m glad its easy to spell.

  41. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:52 pm:

    Moving the primary will make it tougher for Republicans to challenge Democrats in the general election, and visa-versa.

    There are four resources in a campaign: time, people, money and information. Thanks to the internet and FOIA, the playing field on information is becoming more and more level.

    But incumbents maintain a HUGE advantage in money and people.

    Given enough TIME, a challenger can raise the necessary money and recruit the needed volunteers.

    But only eight weeks makes it nearly impossible.

    And how much would it REALLY reduce campaign costs, ergo fundraising, ergo corruption?

    Candidates would still have time to run 8 weeks of t.v. and radio, the single biggest campaign cost.

    Instead of nibbling around the edges, Quinn should simply propose public financing for all campaigns.

    This idea is as goofy and ill-founded as his effort to reform the legislature by reducing its size and his recent polka of ideas around the Obama senate seat.

  42. - Moderate Repub - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:53 pm:

    unspun - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 12:59 pm:

    Two thoughts:
    1. Good luck getting the Speaker on board.
    2. It may favor the Republicans in the next Gov. election. If the Dems have a bloody primary, the meat will still be fresh from the butcher, thereby saving GOP candidate money that would have been spent on negative ads.

    Yeah because Republicans never have bloody primaries. Where have you been?

  43. - scoot - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 1:58 pm:

    The problem in Illinois is the money, not the dates of elections…the money.

  44. - Downstate Commissioner - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 2:01 pm:

    So it benefits Quinn this time? So what? The campaigns never seem (strike “seem”) to end-give us some kind of break from the constant campaigning. May or June might be better than September. Would like to see open primaries, too, but will be sruprised to see any changes….

  45. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 2:04 pm:

    ===The problem in Illinois is the money, not the dates of elections…the money.===

    Not necessarily. Money isn’t evil. The problem is the way too much of that money is raised.

  46. - train111 - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 2:08 pm:

    I’m originally from Wisconsin and they’ve always had a September primary. I can’t remember when it was ever an issue either. I can’t remember them ever having two disgraced Governor’s in a row either. Maybe they’re actually onto something.

  47. - kimsch - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 2:10 pm:

    June. September is too late, May and June the weather is good. 5 months between a June primary and November election works. It may keep down the horrendous amounts of money necessary to campaign for so long. Mailers, radio and TV, newspaper ads…

  48. Pingback Blago HAS Left the Building « LoomisNews: An Outside Observer - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 2:11 pm:

    […] Quinn is wasting no time proposing reforms. […]

  49. - TaxMeMore - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 2:16 pm:

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

  50. - Bubs - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 2:21 pm:

    Kimsch, I agree. Early June. Warm weather, even for signature gathering, most schools still in session.

    I would also like to see the period of early voting cut down to two weeks. The longer period causes spending as the candidates increasingly have to shoot the moon on TV weeks before the election, and keep it going for something like a month. Plus, a lot can happen in the closing weeks.

  51. - Cook citizen - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 2:29 pm:

    Moon and Sanamon,

    This is a critical issue. Its central to reform–to getting legislators to do the right thing. When they’re constantly in campaign mode, they’re scared of their own shadows and currying favor with their funders.

    We desperately need a pause in the election cycle so that elected officials can GOVERN. That’s especially true now that Blago has left a series of messes that will require courage and toughness to deal with.

  52. - ArchPundit - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 2:30 pm:

    May or June are good–August is really quite difficult with vacations and such not to mention the turnaround time. People still pay attention in May–remember Rod’s avalanche of commercials against Judy then.

  53. - TaxMeMore - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 2:31 pm:

    “The problem is the way too much of that money is raised.” And the reason that is a problem is the way too much of our tax money is being spent. If the “after school” programs aren’t getting millions in unchecked pork, they wouldn’t have the money to give back to the politicians to begin with.

    There isn’t one problem, the entire system is broken, especially the complete lack of political competition. Money sure doesn’t matter when 70% of them waltz into office without opposition on the ballot. From gerrymandered districts as well.

  54. - TaxMeMore - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 2:33 pm:

    Pat Quinn has already held more press conferences than he has found pennies of wateful spending from Blago’s administration. Tells us where his priorities are. Political power.

  55. - Phil Collins - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 2:46 pm:

    TaxMeMore, I agree with you, about the lack of competition. In statewide races, Republican, Democrat, and Green Party members must submit at least 5,000 petition signatures. All others must submit at least 25,000 signatures. The requirement should be the same, for all parties, but the rules were written by Democrats and Republicans who try to eliminate competition.

  56. - 42nd Ward Resident - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 2:50 pm:

    Nevada has a September primary. That gave them Jim Gibbons, who after yesterday is the frontrunner for worst governor in the country.

  57. - MOON - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 2:55 pm:


    No matter when the primary is held, we will be barraged with political ads from new years until the November election.

    My concern and question is why this should take a front row seat given all the problems facing this State? This is certainly not high on my priority list of whats needed to correct the problems that exist.

    I find it ironic that Gov. Quinn finds it of such importance that he needed to address it on his first full day in office. To me it is obvious that the Gov. thinks it would be beneficial and self serving for him.

    I thought Gov. Quinn was going to put “The People First” and let Politics Be Damned

  58. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 3:04 pm:

    I can see a September primary under the current early voting rules. Less perpetual campaigning and more governing. Money rules still need to be tightened up including donations moving from political fund to another. I think its time campaign funds are used only for campaigns and campaign related expenses with restrictions on spending.

    Perhaps no fundraising unless during specific times (OK say 120 days before a primary begins and OK to fundraise between primary and general election) and not any other times?

  59. - Eileen Left - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 3:12 pm:

    Municipal elections are held in April, I don’t see why the primaries can’t be held on the same dates. Anything after June would be unexceptable to the legislature because it would allow teachers to run against them.

  60. - chimack - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 3:22 pm:

    Petition gathering needs to happen in decent weather otherwise “machine” candidates have a real advantage in ballot access. Then it should be about six months from primary to general. Because time is money; if a candidate doesn’t have a lot of money it will take time to get his/her credentials known.
    So I say primary at the end of May before schools are out for vacation; which would put signature gathering in March and April and the general election in November, a month most citizens recognize as election time.

  61. - So ILL - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 4:18 pm:

    Maybe like June would be better. I don’t think September would give candidates enough time to get their messages out.

  62. - Capitol View - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 4:23 pm:

    I’ve just been informed that the elections clerks do not consider a September primary viable — too little time to resolve challenges and them get the absentee and general primary election materials printed. This has been their position for the past decade.

    If the election clerks say it is unworkable, the General Assembly respects that conclusion.

  63. - Princess - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 4:28 pm:

    Moon —”With all of the problems facing our state why would anyone, especially at this time, bring up the issue of when the primary should be held?–

    Sangamon —How about a meeting with those employees that have been laid off from their state jobs and seeing what can be done about it”.—

    Moon—My concern and question is why this should take a front row seat given all the problems facing this State? This is certainly not high on my priority list of whats needed to correct the problems that exist.I find it ironic that Gov. Quinn finds it of such importance that he needed to address it on his first full day in office. To me it is obvious that the Gov. thinks it would be beneficial and self serving for him.”—

    Ladies/Gentlemen, please don’t start up on him already, the guy has been in office less than 24 hours. I mean to each their own, but I intend to give Gov Quinn a chance. You read the whole article, right? He came from his 1st official act and it involved the IL Reform Commission and when a mic placed in his face he gave a thought on election/campaign issues. Why burn him at the stake over it? Obviously there are enough posters just here now chipping in their ideas and opinions on when primaries might/could be held. To me that indicates there is some room/need to review it. Being we are trying now to recover from Citizen Blagojevich, not to mention Prisoner Ryan I don’t think Gov Quinn’s first actions and thoughts on his first full day are all that out of line. We have this commission and if I remember right Quinn said we should be getting a report from them in like 100 days or so (if I remember that incorrectly correct me)and these are the very things I assume will be looked into.

  64. - C'mon.... - Friday, Jan 30, 09 @ 4:31 pm:

    There is only one reason Quinn wants a late primary…if he loses the Dem primary for Governor, he is a lame duck next February. Gives him a lot less time to be take advantage of the advantage of incumbancy. But cloak it in reform, and it sounds great!

  65. - Auntie Geo - Tuesday, Feb 3, 09 @ 3:04 pm:

    Anything that shortens the amount of time that the public has to contend with signs, TV commercials, and wasted money is a good thing! Two months is plenty long enough to be bombarded with the same-old, same-old, day-in and day-out!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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