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Primary roundup

Wednesday, Jul 6, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

The four Illinois legislative leaders did not have a spectacular primary day. House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch lost three incumbents to primary challengers. Senate President Don Harmon lost an appointed incumbent and an open seat race. And House Republican Leader Jim Durkin lost two incumbents and came up short in some other races. Senate GOP Leader Dan McConchie came away with one ding.

On the other hand, it was a pretty darned good day to be a young progressive Democrat or a Donald Trump/Darren Bailey-affiliated Republican. State Rep. Delia Ramirez bested well-funded Chicago Ald. Gil Villegas (36th) in the 3rd Congressional District primary by a mind-boggling 42 points — the same margin as Republican Bailey achieved in the governor’s primary.

All of Welch’s defeated incumbents were bested by talented challengers from their left. Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, helped found a caucus for moderate Democrats and voted against repealing the Parental Notification of Abortion Act. His ties to former Speaker Michael Madigan helped for years, but not this time, when they were effectively used against him. Zalewski is a strong legislator, a friend to most and is actually beloved by many progressive legislators, but the winds and the super hard-charging Abdelnasser Rashid got him.

Rep. Denyse Wang Stoneback, D-Skokie, was elected as a progressive two years ago, but alienated the gun law reform lobby as well as many colleagues and others during her tenure. The Gun Violence Prevention PAC went after her with a vengeance because she walked away from a landmark bill that G-PAC had negotiated. She’d also alienated her own state senator, Ram Villivalam, and he and a host of area politicos pushed hard for Kevin Olickal, who basically ran on Stoneback’s 2020 progressive platform.

The Associated Press has declared U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s ally Norma Hernandez the winner over Rep. Kathy Willis, D-Addison. Hernandez ran a Chuy-style campaign — lots of family and friends networking, non-stop door-knocking and making sure progressive Latinos got to the polls.

Senate Democrats and their allies spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to back appointed Sen. Eric Mattson, D-Joliet, against progressive Will County Board member Rachel Ventura, but Ventura won by 15 points, even though she raised only $19,000 all year. This is, needless to say, a big loss. After Sen. John Connor decided to run for judge, the Dems and local pols engineered Mattson’s candidacy and his eventual appointment to Connor’s seat, believing that Ventura could put the district on the bubble this November if she won.

The Dems also supported Lamont Williams against Willie Preston in an open seat race. Preston was up by 8 points when he declared victory. The Williams campaign had a bunch of oppo on Preston and never used it. The Illinois Network of Charter Schools spent heavily for Preston, who had a host of endorsements, although his claimed endorsement by Secretary of State Jesse White proved to be false.

House Republican Conference Chair David Welter, R-Morris, and freshman Rep. Mark Luft, R-Pekin, both lost. The Bailey campaign and people like Jeanne Ives put a big target on Welter’s back. Welter’s opponent Jed Davis was also a very hard worker and won by 9 points with all votes counted except what was still in the mail.

Durkin also backed Arin Thrower in the primary to take on Rep. Suzanne Ness, D-Crystal Lake. But Thrower is trailing the much more rightward Connie Cain by just 64 votes.

Jennifer Korte, another Bailey/Ives candidate backed to the hilt by Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, is defeating GOP-supported Joe Hackler by a 34-point margin for the right to take on Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville. The Durkin crew thought Korte was too far-right to have a chance against Stuart. Now they’re stuck with her.

Of the five House Republicans endorsed by Bailey, four won, with only Kent Gray losing badly to Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield.

Bailey supported two Senate Republican candidates. One won. Bailey-backed Sen. Win Stoller, R-East Peoria, beat the Jim Durkin-backed Brett Nicklaus by about two points. Durkin jumped into this race for Nicklaus after Travis Weaver announced against Luft as a way of pushing back against the Senate Republicans and Weaver’s father, whom he blamed for the younger Weaver’s candidacy.

The Senate Republicans backed a candidate who ended up with bad opposition research trouble, so they got out of the race.

Also, the ultra-conservative Chicago Fraternal Order of Police endorsed three conservative and not all that talented challengers to sitting Democratic legislators and all three incumbents won by huge margins.


  1. - Just Sayin - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 10:15 am:

    ==with only Kent Gray losing badly to Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield.==

    Maybe in two years Kent Gray would be better off moving down to the Marion area, pass himself off as “Ken Gray’s long lost relative” and run in either the 117th or the 118th.

  2. - levivotedforjudy - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 10:40 am:

    I wonder if the lack of the Madigan political campaign machine was a big factor in the losses. Not sure though.

  3. - Larry Bowa Jr. - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 10:42 am:

    “Chicago Fraternal Order of Police endorsed three conservative and not all that talented challengers to sitting Democratic legislators and all three incumbents won by huge margins”

    What a shame!
    Just kidding, it’s hilarious watching FOP light its money on fire again. In my district they expected to get away with running a republican activist in a democratic primary and that democratic voters would be stupid enough to fall for it. Absolutely ludicrous strategy on its face.

  4. - Annonin' - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 11:02 am:

    While the characterization of the cream of the crop FOP candidates was disturbing, voters will be happy to know some deputy sheriff from Woodford County will be landing in the GOPies caucus
    Speaking of not very talented was really on display with Travis Weaver(R-Chicago) beatin’ Mark Luft. Seems like there beau coup controversy among “organization” GOPies.

  5. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 11:05 am:

    “Ventura won by 15 points”

    A few months ago, there was some heavy infighting between the democratic county executive, and the democratic county board members. It briefly spilled out into a few news stories.

    The issue centered on the state law of how a county form of government is chosen and executed, and who does the executing. There are only two counties in Illinois using this specific form of county government - Champaign county is the other one.

    The county exec wanted to consolidate power into the executive office, while the board was pointing out that the state law clearly says otherwise. The county exec then tried to get backing for local officials, and even Champaign county, to lobby the state to *change the state law only for Will county* - to allow the current county exec to continue to consolidate county government into her office.

    I think that last part left a very nasty taste in the mouths of the rest of the members of the democratic party in Will county.

    Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant may have run and won under the Democratic Party name, but she has a very consistent habit of not governing as one. This is a repeat performance of her behavior as a state senator, where she didn’t even find it necessary to vote for HB40 at all.

    Her choice of Mattson then became a liability for Mattson. Mattson not understanding how the voters saw that situation only served to amplify that liability.

    It’s been interesting to watch on a local level.

  6. - Susan - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 11:12 am:

    Tim Butler has been my Do Nothing State Rep for years. He is head of Ethics Reform? What a joke. When Bill Brady, his state senator was charged with lying to get a loan for millions of dollars for his brother. LOL. Tim Butler wants ethics Reform for everyone except himself and his buddies. The people in Tim Butler’s district are asleep.

  7. - Politistage - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 11:17 am:

    ==Rep. Denyse Wang Stoneback, D-Skokie….alienated the gun law reform lobby as well as many colleagues and others during her tenure.==

    It also didn’t help that she hired a chief of staff on administrative leave from Evanston while under investigation for her role in sweeping sexual harassment and assault under the rug. She also gained a reputation of being unpleasant to work for and with.

  8. - Just Sayin - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 12:17 pm:

    During Springfield perennial candidate Tom Shaffer’s near-daily call to Sam Madonia’s show on 1450 Springfield this morning, another perennial Springfield candidate, Sam Cahnman, upset win for Sangamon County Board was discussed. Madonia predicted that once Cahnman was inauguarated to the County Board (he has no GOP challenger), he would immediately run again for City Council Ward 5 next spring (rematch against LaKeisha Purchase). Wild prediction.

  9. - Pink Spruce - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 12:38 pm:

    TheInvisibleMan is correct regarding Will County.

    Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant pretty narrowly won the Executive race there back in 2020. All county officials there (all Dems) could be in trouble in 2024 with Glasgow retiring too. Might be tough times for the Democratic establishment there.

  10. - Back to the Future - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 12:41 pm:

    Solid article on the primary results. Really opened my eyes on how ineffective leadership in both parties was in this primary.
    I was not surprised by Senator Martwick’s big win. He has a long record of supporting benefits for public safety folks and his district has a lot of public safety workers.
    The Senator just got an award from a statewide association a couple of weeks before the election for supporting pension benefits.
    Not sure where FOP was coming from, but good to see it”s members saw through the noise and supported someone who has always been in their corner.

  11. - regular democrat - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 12:48 pm:

    Durkin also could not carry his hand picked Republican committeeman in Lyons township. She got trounced too. Not a great fay for the minority leader.

  12. - Newton - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 1:10 pm:

    Mike Madigan and Alderman Marty Quinn saw their 4th Sub circuit Judicial candidate James Gleffe defeated by a landslide.

  13. - John Lopez - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 1:34 pm:

    Arin Thrower now down by 61 votes, per updated returns in Kane County.

  14. - South side cubs fan - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 1:36 pm:

    I don’t think the Matteson campaign was engineered because Rachel would be vulnerable. They did it because Rachel is abrasive and looks to burn down everything.

  15. - Bigtwich - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 1:53 pm:

    ==Maybe in two years Kent Gray would be better off moving down to the Marion area, pass himself off as “Ken Gray’s long lost relative”==

    He would have to do some magic tricks to pull that off.

  16. - Bourbon Street - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 2:01 pm:


    I agree. Anecdotally, controversy over Stoneback’s hiring of that chief of staff convinced voters I know in that district to vote for Olickal. Also, Olickal was quite the tireless and personable campaigner. He showed up so many times at some friends’ house (and they liked him so much) that they’re thinking of inviting him for Thanksgiving dinner. /s

  17. - Mitchell - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 2:02 pm:

    Also worthy of conversation is the no good, bad, downright awful primary cycle Operators 150 had. But for the Leaders challenges, this would have definitely been a top story.

  18. - Pawar Lost - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 2:03 pm:

    Diane Harris as a Black Republican will be no pushover for Rachel Ventura.

  19. - Original Rambler - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 4:31 pm:

    Susan, the alternative to Tim Butler was a worse candidate in every respect.

    Any updates on the MWRD unexpired term race? Been radio silence for 4 days.

  20. - Just Sayin - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 5:21 pm:

    ==Susan, the alternative to Tim Butler was a worse candidate in every respect.==

    All the more reason for him to move down to Marion and claim he’s Ken Gray’s long-lost son.

  21. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Jul 6, 22 @ 5:42 pm:

    “Diane Harris ”

    Also hasn’t cracked 40% in an election she was running in as a republican in this area, in a decade. Last finishing with 34% in this same district in 2014.

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