Bruce Rauner addresses supporters after winning the Republican gubernatorial primary, Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in Chicago.
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo

Primary voters set the stage in Illinois

Updated
It was Primary Day in Illinois yesterday and the stage is now set for some pretty interesting races for the fall.
The fall campaign for Illinois governor between Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner will feature dueling brands of populism, campaign bankrolls in the tens of millions of dollars and plenty of scorched-earth attacks from groups with a vested interest in the high-stakes race.
 
Indeed, even before Rauner had eked out a tougher-than-expected primary victory Tuesday, Quinn was up on TV with an ad attacking the wealthy Winnetka venture capitalist for his shifting positions on raising Illinois’ minimum wage.
Polls showed Rauner winning fairly easily, but he ended up defeating state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R) by only three points. It wasn’t long ago that Dillard was seen as a rising start in Illinois Republican politics, but in 2008, he appeared for a few seconds in a Barack Obama ad, and much of the party still hasn’t forgiven him. He narrowly lost in a GOP gubernatorial primary in 2010, too.
 
Though Illinois is generally perceived as one of the nation’s most reliable “blue” states, statewide contests can be quite competitive. Not only did voters elect Sen. Mark Kirk (R) to the Senate in 2010, but three of Illinois’ last five governors were Republicans – including an uninterrupted 26-year streak from 1977 to 2003.
 
What should make this year’s race especially interesting is that Republicans appear to have nominated a candidate with a Romney-esque problem.
Quinn and national Democrats are … highlighting unsavory elements of [Rauner’s] career in private equity and legal troubles at nursing homes owned by Rauner’s firm. Rauner has played into this image, describing himself as belonging to the “.01 percent” and at one point during the campaign proposing to lower the state’s minimum wage before later saying it should be increased.
 
Quinn bought TV time during primary night local TV coverage in Chicago and Champaign to air a clip of Rauner saying he would lower the state’s minimum wage to the federal level.
But this isn’t the only race of note.
 
The primaries in the state’s 13th congressional district were also noteworthy.
Former Madison County Judge Ann Callis picked up the Democratic nomination in Illinois’ 13th District Tuesday night and will now face a top target of national Democrats, freshman GOP Rep. Rodney Davis…. Davis defeated former Miss America Erika Harold 57 percent to 38 percent, with 65 percent of precincts reporting.
 
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee backed Callis in the primary, and party operatives say she is the best candidate to defeat Davis in this swing district.
Erika Harold, the Harvard educated former Miss America generated quite a bit of national attention, including speeches at CPAC and the Republican National Convention, as well as multiple Fox News appearances, but this didn’t translate into votes – she lost by 13 points.
 

Illinois

Primary voters set the stage in Illinois

Updated