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Campaign roundup: Supreme Court race; McNamara drops congressional bid; King’s big haul; Lombardi’s pal

Tuesday, Jul 20, 2021

* Erick Krol at the Center for Illinois Politics

Newly redrawn Illinois Supreme Court districts mean there’s an open seat in the northern and far western suburbs that’s expected to be fought over next year in a high-dollar battle key to determining which party controls the judicial branch.

Four county judges and a North Shore mayor already say they’re in or considering a run for the new 2nd District job, and more candidates could emerge in the coming months.

The would-be justices will have to win support from voters in Lake, Kane, McHenry, Kendall and DeKalb counties. First up is the primary election in late June 2022, with the Democrat and Republican victors then squaring off in the November general election.

The seat is one of two spots up for grabs on a court where Democrats hold a 4-3 edge, and the campaigns will unfold after both sides shattered Illinois spending records on a judicial contest in fall 2020. Illinois Republicans and their business allies scored a big win when voters rejected retention for then-Justice Tom Kilbride of Rock Island in the 3rd District, who was backed by trial lawyers and labor unions. The district has been tweaked to make it more Democrat-friendly, but for Republicans, the 2022 contests may represent the party’s best shot at regaining a toehold in state government.

“This could end up being one of the most interesting and consequential races on the ballot,” said Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield. “If you’ve got an interest in maintaining some relevance politically, the court might be the way to go.” […]

Just how Democratic the new 2nd District is depends on the election used to measure it. Democrat Joe Biden scored 55.9% to 42.1% for then-President Donald Trump in those five counties last year. In 2018, Democrat Pritzker bested then-Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner by just 2 percentage points. Both Pritzker and Biden took all but McHenry County. In 2014, Rauner bested then-Gov. Pat Quinn by 23 percentage points in those five counties.

Lots more in there, so try to read the whole thing.

* Meanwhile, in Rockford

Mayor Tom McNamara has decided against running for Congress to succeed U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline.

McNamara was inundated with calls from across the country urging him to run for Bustos’ Congressional seat after she announced that she would not seek a sixth term. But although tempted by the idea he might have a wider impact in Congress, McNamara ultimately decided he can make a bigger difference staying mayor of Rockford.

McNamara announced Monday he will not run for Congress in 2022.

“We have work left to do, and I want to be here, beside you, as we implement more positive change in our community,” McNamara said in a written statement.

Keep an eye on state Sen. Steve Stadelman. Also worth watching is Nikki Budzinski, who is moving back to Illinois from DC after a stint as chief of staff at the Office of Management & Budget. She’s from Peoria and she’s known to be thinking about a congressional bid.

* And in the same current congressional district that may be completely obliterated when the new boundaries are drawn

With Q2 federal fundraising numbers released nationwide for all campaigns, Republican candidate Esther Joy King stands as the top raising challenger campaign in all of Illinois.

In addition, she is one of only four targeted GOP challenger campaigns nationally that raised more than $400,000. On July 8, her campaign announced it had raised more than $425,000 in the second fundraising quarter that ended June 30.

According to data from Rob Pyers, research director for California Target Book, King was the top raising challenger campaign in the state as of July 16.

* One more

A conservative U.S. House candidate from northeast Illinois is trumpeting support he’s received on Twitter from an Arizona congressman who’s drawn controversy for ties to white nationalists and comments about the 2020 election and the Capitol riot, among other subjects.

Jack Lombardi, a Manhattan Republican who has billed himself as the “most conservative candidate” running for the 16th District seat now held by Republican Adam Kinzinger, was the subject of a tweet Friday by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar.

“Just had a great chat with @JackLombardi and if you live in Illinois check this man out,” tweeted Gosar, a six-term Republican.

Lombardi retweeted the comment, adding “Thank you for your time. Great things to come!”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

20 Comments
  1. - The Real Downstate - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 6:45 am:

    Dems have an opportunity to nominate an experienced black candidate in IL17 and I hope they do. Maurice West, Jehan Gordon Booth, or Litesa Wallace would be all be great candidates, though their voting records will be to the left of the district. I hope Stadelman stays in the Senate and that Halpin joins him.


  2. - DuPage Saint - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 7:50 am:

    I wonder what the effect of having primary in June will have on fund raising. I would think in hot primary lite for Supreme Court maybe more total money spent on primary candidates than in general election. Of course in many uncompetitive races will be no difference


  3. - Shield - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 9:01 am:

    Art Jones was just the vanguard for the Illinois GOP apparently.


  4. - walker - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 9:02 am:

    People are getting anxious about competing for funds. But it’s early for both candidates and funders to take firm positions. Speculation about remapping is rampant, and not to be trusted.


  5. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 9:09 am:

    The easiest way for the workarounds, make the Bustos seat Red, keeping Republican influence out of Cook, the Collars, and the Chicago media market… and make the Kinzinger seat blue… making it very difficult… for the cult… to be in the 3rd largest media market in America.

    Wouldn’t take much drawing for both to flip… and keeps the 13 seats Dems need… and reduces a GOP seat by pen… or computer…

    Kinzinger’s war chest, it ain’t light on cash. We’ll see.


  6. - Fav Human - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 9:28 am:

    Lombardi

    His fundraising isn’t very impressive. He also did a wierd thing to make it look bigger than it really was. Gave himself an in kind contribution, then gave himself an in kind expense.

    He’s no different than Marter and Gradel, spoiler value only.

    I will say that I put very little store by him getting a tweet from some one with “ties”.

    I doubt any novice running for office investigates much any office holder who endorses him. They just play up the endorsement from a “somebody” regardless how small the somebody is.


  7. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 9:44 am:

    Shame about McNamara. A young mayor of a nearly 150K-sized midwestern city that has struggled to thrive in modern times could have drawn national attention to what we have here in Illinois outside of Chicago. I hope he has a future ahead of him.


  8. - Lori's Fedora - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 9:55 am:

    Wow! Budzinski would be an amazing candidate. Significant DC and IL experience, probably has access to real funding, and I’m guessing labor would be foaming at the mouth to have one of their in Congress.

    Our entire state would benefit by her being a member of our congressional delegation.


  9. - Interim Retiree - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 9:56 am:

    –make the Bustos seat Red–
    With respect, thanks OW, but I live in her district & prefer to remain Blue.


  10. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 10:07 am:

    ===I live in her district & prefer to remain Blue.===

    As construed now, its either trending Red or Bustos was asleep to the constituents

    Taking the Kinzinger seat and flipping it Blue, seems like a “fair trade” overall, but I can fully understand your angst and the want to keep it. Do the demographics allow it to stay Blue? I don’t know. “Why take a chance?”


  11. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 10:08 am:

    ==and make the Kinzinger seat blue==

    Isn’t he also from the Bloomington area? That would be a perfect opportunity to put a blue wall surrounding the Chicago market with the new 16th. An I-39 seat from Rockford to Bloomington and then 74 to Champaign. With the new 13th running from Cairo and Carbondale thru the Metro East to Springfield and Decatur.


  12. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 10:11 am:

    The dynamic of a 13-4 seat won’t face nearly the scrutiny of a 14-3 map Pritzker would need to sign… this time closer to election time.

    That’s a big difference… and a lot for Pritzker to carry.


  13. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 10:14 am:

    that SC race should be very interesting. former chicago police supt’s daughter running up there will bring lots of chatter no matter how nice she is.


  14. - City Zen - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 10:20 am:

    ==Also worth watching is Nikki Budzinski, who is moving back to Illinois from DC after a stint as chief of staff at the Office of Management & Budget==

    Stint = 6 months. Seems kinda short for a prestigious gig.


  15. - JP Altgeld - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 10:42 am:

    Pretty safe assumption that the Bustos district is going red and will be redrawn as such. She knows the game better than anyone and chose to leave it for a reason.


  16. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 10:48 am:

    ===Pretty safe assumption that the Bustos district is going red===

    I wouldn’t assume anything rn.


  17. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 11:01 am:

    ===Seems kinda short for a prestigious gig===

    You apparently are unaware of her long history in politics and government.


  18. - Hmmm - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 11:32 am:

    After reading that piece in Politico yesterday I think Nikki is 100% going to run. Just every quote in there read like someone who is gearing up to run and wants some buzz around the fact she’s coming back home from DC.


  19. - Mikey P - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 4:57 pm:

    Lombardi is by far the best candidate to take on Kinzinger. Well deserving of Trump’s endorsement.


  20. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 20, 21 @ 4:58 pm:

    === Well deserving of Trump’s endorsement.===

    LOL, after that map is drawn for that district, more Trumpian in the general, the greatest chance to be humiliated.

    Let em all run.


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