Illinois’s primary is underway, as voters choose their top candidates to run in the state’s governor’s race and 18 congressional races this November. We have the live results from key races, courtesy of Decision Desk HQ.
Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is not well liked. He is among the least popular governors in the country and has a lower approval rating than President Donald Trump in a state Trump lost by more than 20 points.
This means that the Illinois governorship is, perhaps by far, the most likely gubernatorial pickup opportunity for Democrats this November. They desperately want to improve their numbers in states; Democrats control only 16 governors’ mansions around the country.
Rauner, first elected in the 2014 Republican wave, is an uberwealthy former venture capitalist and faces challenges on both the left and the right. In the Republican primary, one far-right state legislator, Jeanne Ives, is trying to kick Rauner off the ballot in November altogether with a socially conservative campaign railing on the governor for having liberal views on abortion and LGBTQ rights. While the race has tightened in the final days, Ives is still trailing in the polls.
Meanwhile, there is a bitterly competitive primary on the Democratic side. Three candidates have been leading a crowded field: venture capitalist and billionaire entrepreneur J.B. Pritzker, who has led infrequent polls; progressive state Sen. Daniel Biss; and developer Chris Kennedy (the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s son).
Illinois is in a state of severe financial crisis decades in the making. Its bond rating is hovering one level above “junk” status, and the state went two years without a budget before finally passing one with a significant tax hike last summer. November will undoubtedly be a race about stabilizing the state’s financial situation and breaking Illinois’s long history of corrupt leadership (four of the past seven governors have ended up in prison).
Among the Democrats, Pritzker, who has been dogged by questions about his vast wealth and use of offshore companies, has already focused his campaign on November, spending most of his time attacking Rauner.
If the race does narrow to Pritzker and Rauner on Tuesday, November will be a contest between a billionaire and a multimillionaire. The winner will be whoever convinces Illinois voters he will be able to revitalize the state’s economy and stay aboveboard while doing it.