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Clayton Harris filing nominating petitions

Clayton Harris III, a former prosecutor and political aide, files nominating petitions Monday at the Cook County Clerk’s office to run for Cook County state’s attorney in the March 19 primary. Mariyana Spyropoulos (in red), a commissioner for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District who is running for Cook County Circuit Court Clerk, stands at his right.

Ashlee Rezin

Congressional Dems see potential challengers as 2024 election gets under way

Six Chicago area Democratic members of Congress could see primary challengers in the March 19 election.

And a downstate congressional battle of who admires former President Donald Trump the most has officially begun.

U.S. Reps. Danny Davis, Jan Schakowsky, Sean Casten, Bill Foster, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Mike Quigley all filed their required nominating petitions on Monday, and at least one Democratic challenger filed petitions in each of their races.

The six Democrats are among a slew of statewide and county candidates who filed petitions with the Illinois State Board of Elections and the Cook County clerk’s office on the first day of the week-long filing period.

Candidates who turned in their signatures first thing Monday morning earned a spot in a lottery to have their names appear at the top of the ballot, a spot that many believe offers a slight advantage in crowded races.

Beyond the bragging rights and a visual image of a heaping pile of petitions, candidates try to file many more signatures than required to withstand challenges by rival candidates hoping their campaigns will end before they even begin.

Clayton Harris III, a public policy professor and former political aide, filed more than 27,000 petition signatures — more than five times the required amount — in the race to succeed Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

Harris received the powerful support of the Cook County Democratic Party in August, which will help bolster his campaign with money and foot soldiers. He filed his petitions alongside Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who is also chair of the party. Preckwinkle also filed petitions for herself for 4th Ward committeeperson.

Harris on Monday said he did not see support from Preckwinkle, as well as her support for Foxx, as a negative, telling reporters he is his own person.

“I think what it does is it gives me an opportunity to build my own path and to be my own candidate in person,” Harris said. “I think what people will see is that regardless of the support that I have, and I have a lot of support, incredible support, that I’m forging my own way.”

Eileen O’Neill Burke, a retired Illinois Appellate Court judge and a former Cook County assistant state’s attorney, planned to file her petitions to succeed Foxx on Dec. 4. A spokeswoman said Burke’s campaign has seen an “enthusiastic response from voters.” Former Ald. Bob Fioretti also said he plans to file petitions as a Republican candidate for state’s attorney.

There are several key congressional races to watch next year, including the 7th Congressional District, which Davis won last year by more than 4,600 votes. City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin and Kouri Marshall, who served in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration, also filed to run in the 7th.

But Davis, 82, likely will see more challengers, including Kina Collins, who is expected to make her third bid for the seat; Kip Knutson and Nikhil Bhatia. Davis was first elected to his House seat in 1996.

In the 12th Congressional District in southern Illinois, incumbent Rep. Mike Bost is fending off a formidable challenge from former Republican gubernatorial nominee and downstate farmer Darren Bailey.

Both Bailey and Bost were endorsed by Trump during their respective races last year, with the former president hosting a rally in central Illinois in the waning days of the GOP primary to publicly back Bailey for governor. Two days later, Trump endorsed Bost in his 2022 congressional reelection race.

But Bailey calls Bost a “career politician.” He has also taken aim at President Joe Biden, recently putting out an image of the 81-year-old president blowing out candles and writing that he “can’t string a cohesive sentence together.”

Bost said he filed more than 5,000 signatures on Monday in Springfield. He has called himself the “proven, conservative leader.” And even though it came nearly a year ago, Bost keeps his Trump endorsement from 2022 at the top of his Facebook and X page as a featured image. Bailey also filed his nominating petitions Monday.

Back in Chicago, Quigley saw one Democratic challenger file petitions in the 5th Congressional District: Jerico Matias-Cruz of Chicago. In the 11th Congressional District, incumbent Foster faces Qasim Rashid, a Naperville human rights lawyer who filed petitions on Monday.

Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) filed petitions to challenge Garcia in the 4th Congressional District, and Charles M. Hughes, of Chicago, filed petitions to challenge Casten in the 6th Congressional District. Michael Donahue of Park Ridge also filed petitions to challenge Schakowsky in the 9th Congressional District.

Foster, Schakowsky and Garcia saw no primary challengers in 2020. But next year’s election marks the second with redrawn districts, with some incumbents still fairly new to voters.

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