Illinois’ unusually early February 2 Primary Election will find Illinois voters scrambling to put away the holiday
decorations while watching, listening and reading hundreds of ads from candidates of both parties running for
the U.S. Senate, Governor, Congress and the State house. The ads will run almost non-stop from the New Years
bowl games to Groundhog Day.
Illinois’ primary date, you may recall, was moved from an already early March to February in 2008 to give the
then democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and early boost in an effort to derail frontrunner Hillary
Clinton. Therefore, primary nominees for the U.S. Senate, Governor, all statewide Constitutional offices and
many more will have about four weeks after the holidays to convince voters that they deserve to be the standard
bearer for their party. In fact, with early voting starting January 11, many voters will be marking their ballots
with little information or knowledge of the candidates.
With Governor Blagojevich’s impeachment and somewhat of an exit from the state scene, Democrats find
themselves in their worst political position since the La Rouche debacle in the late eighties and the Republican
sweep in 1994. Republicans, on the other hand, have the best potential in years to pick up statewide offices and
have several candidates for the U.S. Senate, Governor, Lt. Governor, and an open seat in the 10th Congressional
Democrats have interesting primaries for the U.S. Senate, Governor and Lt. Governor where most of the
charges to date center around who shares more blame for the absolutely catastrophic fiscal condition the state is
in with a deficit over $12 billion, thousands of state vendors going bankrupt waiting to get paid and a state
pension system rated the worst of all states in unfunded liabilities. You wonder if the candidates need a mental
health check-up to make sure they know what they’re running for.
Given the large number of candidates from both parties at press time, this article will take a brief look at the
major offices with a few comments about the leading candidates.
First term State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias holds a decent lead in the early polls but carries a lot of baggage
from his family’s near bankrupt bank, millions of dollars in losses for the Bright Start college savings program,
and his relationship with convicted felon and Blagojevich insider Tony Rezko.
Former City of Chicago Inspector General and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Hoffman has some of the best
early ads from any candidate and his credentials enhance his message on ethics.
Cheryl Jackson, the head of the Chicago Urban League and only african-american in the race, should be in the
lead or a tie given the demographics of the Democratic primary vote. Instead, she has run a lackluster campaign,
raised very little money and has done nothing to energize her African-American base.
If Hoffman can stay up on TV and radio and Jackson’s campaign continues to drift, look for a close race on
Election Day between Giannoulias and Hoffman.
Congressman Mark Kirk, 10th District, holds a significant lead over seven unknown candidates, however
undecideds are leading all candidates at press time. The only other Republican getting some attention is
Hinsdale developer Patrick Hughes who is running to the right of Kirk.
Look for the more moderate Kirk to win on February 2, with Hughes picking up a significant percentage of the
A wide open seven way primary finds former state Attorney General and 2002 candidate for Governor Jim
Ryan leading in the polls in late December. Ryan, the last candidate to announce, is leading simply by his
considerable name recognition. Ryan’s liabilities include his long term relationship with convicted political
insider Stuart Levine and his lack of organization and money.
State Senator Kirk Dillard of Hillsdale is running a well organized and issues oriented campaign. He has also
received the endorsement of former Governor Jim Edgar. One of the more moderate republican candidates,
Dillard will need to make significant media buys in January to boost his name identification.
State Senator Bill Brady of Bloomington has been running since the 2006 primary when he made a respectable
showing. Brady, the only downstater in the republican primary, has racked up more miles and party
endorsements than any other candidate and those are significant in a multi-candidate primary and his voting
record will appeal to the party base.
Andy McKenna, the former republican party chair and CEO of a manufacturing company has been up on
television and radio since Thanksgiving and has teamed up with state Senator Matt Murphy as his Lt. Governor
candidate. A moderate, McKenna clearly has an advantage with money. If he has a good message he will be a
serious contender on February 2nd.
Dan Proft, a political commentator and City of Cicero employee has a fairly compelling message about turning
Springfield and state government upside down but with no money, organization and a less than telegenic
persona, he is appealing to the TEA party activists who may well have an impact in the republican primary.
Bob Schillerstrom has served capably as the DuPage County Chief Executive for several years. To date, he has
not been able to expand his campaign beyond DuPage County.
While everyone wants to be an “outsider” this year, Adam Andrzejewski is the only republican who can truly
lay claim to the title. A successful businessman also from DuPage is making his first venture into elective
The Democratic Primary is down to two candidates, Governor Pat Quinn, sworn in after former Governor
Blagojevich impeachment and three term Comptroller Dan Hynes.
Pat Quinn started his tenure as a welcome change from Rod Blagojevich pledging a quieter more cooperative
approach to governing but by the end of the legislative session and through early December, he is starting to
resemble the Blago style more each day.
Flip flopping on several major issues like campaign finance reform, the Capitol construction program and the
state budget, Quinn, as of mid-December, gave Hynes his biggest opening with the revelation that Quinn’s
Department of Corrections has been operating an early release program for convicted felons, many of whom
only served a few weeks.
Governor Quinn has maintained fairly significant leads in the polls to date and is racking up significant labor
and local party endorsements throughout the state. In an abbreviated campaign with both candidates lacking
serious resources, these endorsements are significant.
Hynes has been given an opening from Quinn’s mistakes. His best opportunity is to exploit them in a paid
media campaign throughout the month of January.
The 2010 primary and general elections will have a great impact on the direction Illinois will take into the next
decade. Getting rid of our well deserved reputation for corruption and saddling future generations with debt is a
mandatory first step.
After nearly a decade on the sidelines, it will be interesting to see if the republican party can make a comeback
with a slate of candidates promoting a positive message and vision that increases turnout from the base and
It will also be interesting to measure turnout amongst democrats with the first election since Blago’s
impeachment and the Cook County strangle hold on state government.
Whatever your preference and affiliations, please take the time to investigate the candidates. All have extensive
websites and there are numerous resources on the web to assist in your evaluation. In addition, feel free to give
me a call. I am happy to share my opinions and insights with you.