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Illinois Republican Primary “Endorsements”

On Tuesday, primaries will be held in Illinois to decide candidates for the general election in November. Besides the gubernatorial election, there is also a Senate seat and some competitive House seats.

For Governor, incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn faces a daunting task to get reelected. To hear some voices in Illinois, he may even face a tough primary fight against progressive activist Tio Hardeman. There are four rather strong Republicans in the field also ready to take on Quinn’s dismal record and approval ratings. If ever there was a Democratic gubernatorial position up for grabs, this is the state.

Bill Brady ran against Quinn in 2010 and lost a close race. Losing by less than 1 percentage point, a look at the electoral map of Illinois by county in that election shows the startling dichotomy in the state. Quinn essentially won Chicago and a few southern counties and still won the election. If any GOP candidate can just improve in these Democratic strongholds, there will be a Republican governor. It would be very tempting to endorse Brady for another run since Quinn’s position is precarious given the financial problems facing the state. However, there are other qualified candidates in the field. Venture capitalist Bruce Rauner has the financial resources to go the distance in what will likely be an expensive race. Even Kirk Dillard is a bona fide candidate if not for his 2007 endorsement as a Republican for then-Senator Barack Obama for president.

However, given the financial problems in the state, I am going with the person best suited for the job- current state treasurer and former legislator Dan Rutherford. Besides his experience in the state legislature and his tenure as treasurer- jobs that make him very much aware of the problems facing the state- he was also a businessman before that which pads his resume. The fact is that any of these candidates will give Quinn a serious run for the money, but Dan Rutherford is the most experienced.

For Senate, the winner will take on Dick Durbin who is well-positioned to be reelected. Therefore, it really makes little difference who runs. Simply put, this seat is not in play for the GOP. There are two candidates- Jim Oberweis and Doug Truax. Oberweis is familiar to the political process as this is the third time he has run for the GOP nod in a primary. He also ran for the gubernatorial nod in 2006 and lost and twice ran against Bill Foster in a House race (for the seat formerly held by Dennis Hastert) and lost both times. Oberweis is best for second place. Therefore, Doug Truax- a candidate without much political experience- is an up and coming Republican in Illinois. Not to sound too pessimistic (I am a realist), but the eventual primary winner will lose to Durbin. Therefore, let’s inflict some damage along the way and hold Durbin accountable while building up the resume of an “outsider.” That person is Doug Truax and he receives my endorsement.

District 3- In the 3rd District, the eventual winner will face Democratic incumbent Dan Lipinski. The Cook PVI of this district is Democratic +5. I have it considerably more Democratic. In the end it makes little difference as the seat is really not in play. Hence, I give the nod to financial advisor Diane Harris.

District 8- The 8th is currently represented by Democrat Tammy Duckworth who is closely associated with Obama. There is an outside chance of taking this district, although it the GOP primary winner would have to overcome some obstacles. Still, if the primary debate is over Obamacare, then the GOP should go with Manju Goel, a health care consultant in the state. This is an important district north of Chicago extending to the border with Minnesota. Goel would be the best bet to run a tight race against Duckworth.

District 9- It really does not matter who runs against uber-liberal Jan Schakowsky. Unlike Cook, this district is more Democratic than most rank it, especially when it comes to Schakowsky. One candidate, David Williams, was a Ron Paul activist and perhaps a libertarian message may resonate in this area. However, Susanne Atanus made the ballot through the write-in process indicating some grassroots support. Hence, I would go with Susanne Atanus just for the hell of it.

District 11- In the 11th, Bill Foster, the Democratic incumbent, represents one of the oddest shaped districts in the state that begins in the southern suburbs of Chicago before running in a thin strip south to Bloomington. With a decent candidate, this district is in play. There are five GOP candidates on the primary ballot: Grundy County board member Chris Balkema, radio talk show host Ian Bayne, businessman Bert Miller, talent manager Craig Robbins, and state legislator Darlene Senger. Chris Balkema is talk at this point while Bayne waded into the “Duck Dynasty” controversy by equating Phil Robertson with Rosa Parks. These are the types of distractions the GOP needs to avoid. Miller sounds like an Obama booster at times while Robbins is a throw-in. Therefore, not necessarily by process of elimination but because she is the best qualified, this writer endorses the candidacy of Darlene Senger.

District 13- Incumbent Republican Rodney Davis represents the 13th district located in the central part of that state and includes the capital of Springfield. On the plus side, a Democrat last represented this district in 1895. However, redistricting has changed the character of it. In 2008, Obama won the area but Romney tied Obama in 2012 in the 13th. Cook puts their PVI at even here while I give it a slight Republican advantage of 3 points. Davis faces two challengers- 2003 Miss America Erika Harold who is also an attorney, and frequent candidate (he ran in 2010 and 2012) Mike Firsching. Given the number of Democrats vying for the opportunity to take on Davis, it is obvious they view this as a target of opportunity in a blue state. Davis won in 2012 thus he is a neophyte in Washington who so far has a middle conservative record in Congress. Given the stakes and the Democratic targeting of the district, although tempted to endorse Harold, this writer supports the candidacy of Rodney Davis.

District 16- Finally,in the 16th Congressional District in Illinois, Republican incumbent Adam Kinzinger faces a challenge from Tea Party activist David Hale. This district is located in the northwestern part of the state and is based in Rockford. Cook and I are in basic agreement here and place it nominally Republican. The question is whether the district is conservative enough for Hale. For example, Heritage Action gives Kinzinger a rather low rating for conservatism. Ontheissues.org rates Kinzinger as a center-right candidate, almost in moderate territory. Although, like the 13th, tempted to go with new,more conservative blood, the risk of endorsing Hale and then losing the general election is too great to do so. Political reality dictates endorsement of Adam Kinzinger for reelection with the obvious caveats.  Just hold your nose for the next two years.

{NOTE: As stated in a previous entry regarding the Texas Republican primaries, although this writer would like to see the most conservative candidate win, I look at the political reality of their victory in a general election.  Again, it makes the most sense to run the most conservative candidate in the very conservative districts and the very liberal districts.  In the latter case, the Democrat will likely win (political reality) so it makes little difference who the GOP runs, so why not go with the most conservative?  It is in swing districts (which I define as +/- 15 points either way based on my analysis) where the most winnable GOP candidate- strongly conservative or not- is given greater weight.}

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