Now that Bill Daley has dropped out of the race for Illinois governor, it’s possible no Democrat running statewide will face a primary challenger. And without competitive races at the top of the ballot, Democratic challengers in down-ballot races are bracing for low turnout in their districts.
Take Will Guzzardi.
He wants to represent parts of Chicago’s northwest side in the Illinois House of Representatives. To do that, he’ll have to beat incumbent State Rep. Toni Berrios in the Democratic primary.
In the last election, Guzzardi lost to Berrios by 125 votes.
He said Monday that he expects another tough fight, considering Democrats running for U.S. senator, governor, and others might not have opponents at the top of the ticket to draw people to the polls in the March primary.
“It’s an off-season primary with nothing interesting at the top of the ballot,” Guzzardi said. “So you have to explain to them, ‘Here’s what’s at stake in a legislative race like this.’”
Guzzardi said as he’s collecting signatures to get on the ballot, he’s trying to get potential voters interested in Springfield’s influence over issues like safety and public schools.
Tio Hardiman is collecting signatures to try to get on the Democratic ballot to challenge incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn.
Meantime, Kent Redfield, a University of Illinois at Springfield political science professor, said Republicans could see higher turnout in the primary, since four members of the GOP are running for governor.
He said one candidate for governor in particular, Bruce Rauner, is trying to bring in new Republican voters to the primary.
“That helps somebody down ballot who’s also trying to get people who might not vote or might not be - or the regular kind of Republican voters that normally show up in a primary,” Redfield said.
Republican State Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard and Treasurer Dan Rutherford are also running for governor.
Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics. Follow him @tonyjarnold.