Tuesday’s primary features a number of key Democratic battles for the state House and Senate. These races will go a long way to determine how much of a voice progressives have in Springfield, at a time of significant and continued budget cuts.
Tuesday’s primary features a number of key Democratic battles for state House and Senate. These races will go a long way to determine how much of a voice progressives have in Springfield, at a time of significant and continued budget cuts.
Cook County Democratic voters will also select a candidate in heated races for Illinois Supreme Court and clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court.
Here is a look at a few key races:
21st District State Representative:
The redrawn 21st district includes several Southwest Chicago Latino neighborhoods and stretches to the west suburbs. Judging by their endorsements, the race between challengers Rudy Lozano, Jr and Silvana Tabares is part of a larger battle between two different visions of urban education. The Chicago Teachers Union and other organized labor including SEIU Illinois Council (sponsor of this site), backs Lozano. The United Neighborhood Organization charter school network, which often clashes with CTU, supports Tabares.
Lozano is the son of slain union organizer, Rudy Lozano, and has emphasized his experience teaching at an alternative high school and helping run after school programs. Tabares is the former editor of Extra, a bilingual newspaper. She has focused on local job creation through providing small business tax incentives, among other issues. Click through for more of our coverage on this race.
26th District State Representative:
The 26th district stretches along the lakefront from the magnificent mile shopping district to the Bronzeville neighborhood. Twenty-six year-old Christian Mitchell enjoys a slew of big name endorsements including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Mitchell’s former boss, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Journal both endorsed Mitchell, citing his command of policy.
Opponent Kenny Johnson says he has deeper community roots, working in marketing and advertising and living in the south of downtown area for years. South Loop Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) backs Johnson. U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Chicago) also backs Johnson – the candidate worked for Jackson for three years.
Click through for more of our coverage on this race.
39th District State Representative:
Few races fit the stereotype of the insider incumbent against outsider challenger as accurately as Rep. Toni Berrios' (D-Chicago) battle against 24 year-old former Huffington Post reporter Will Guzzardi. Berrios is the son of Cook County assessor Joe Berrios, and a 10-year incumbent. She is Puerto Rican in a North Side Chicago district that is majority Latino.
The candidates differ on their apparent level of engagement on matters like the state government’s role in education standards, and helping people get jobs. Guzzardi provides a candid assessment on, for example, the landmark Illinois education reform law passed last year. Berrios has not updated her Web site’s issue page since 2008.
The Chicago Teachers Union and Illinois Federation of Teachers endorse Guzzardi, while the state AFL-CIO and AFSCME Local 31 back Berrios. Click here for more of our coverage on this race.
Other races to watch include the 5th State Senate district contest between incumbent between State Sen. Anazette Collins (D-Chicago) and challenger Patricia Watkins, the 22nd district House contest between Speaker of the House Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and outspoken opponent Michele Piszczor, and the 10th district tilt between Tom Swiss and State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago). Federal agents arrested Smith last week on bribery charges.
Illinois Supreme Court:
There is a four-person race for a Cook County judge in the seven-member high court between temporary court appointment Mary Jane Theis, appellate justices Joy Cunningham and Aurelia Pucinksi, and private attorney Thomas Flannigan. One way voters can sift through the candidates is via ratings from the Chicago Bar Association and Chicago Council of Lawyers. Theis and Cunningham get favorable marks for their legal knowledge and decision-making; Pucinski gets mixed reviews; and Flannigan has poor marks.
Theis raised more than $1 million and has the support of her North Side Chicago neighbor, Mayor Emanuel, as well as the Cook County Democratic Party. Preckwinkle endorses Cunningham, who says she wants the court to focus on social justice issues. Pucinski is also a strong contender due to her decades of political experience, including 12 years as Cook County Circuit Court clerk.
Cook County Circuit Court Clerk:
The race between 12-year incumbent Dorothy Brown and Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) has partly focused on who can best modernize the clerk’s office. Munoz says Brown has been too slow to adopt electronic filing. Brown counters that her office has started e-filing, and that the clerk’s office hands are tied by the state Supreme Court. According to the Sun-Times, many Cook County bar association leaders agree with Munoz – the clerk’s files are a mess.
There have been various allegations of impropriety during the race; one that has stuck is that Brown’s employees donate to her campaign. Brown acknowledges the practice, but says it doesn’t run afoul of campaign finance law.