Primary elections in Illinois are about a month away. Excited yet?
I didn't think so.
Enthusiasm during mid-term elections (no presidential contests) tends to wane. And, let's face it, there just isn't much on the March 18 ballots this year to get excited about.
But there are a few interesting races. A couple of them are very interesting. Here are 5 primary contests to follow in the next 32 days.
1. Governor, Republican Party
Yes, Gov. Pat Quinn technically has a primary challenger. But no one expects Tio Hardiman (heard of him?) to present an actual challenge to Quinn. But it will be very interesting to see who among Bruce Rauner, Dan Rutherford, Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady will end up on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. The polls, if you believe them, suggest it will be Rauner.
2. Ogle County Sheriff, Republican Party
For all intents and purposes, next month's primary is the general election for this race in Ogle County. Sheriff Michael Harn, whose spending and savings in his department have been the subject of a number of stories in our newspapers in recent weeks, has two Republican challengers – Brian VanVickle and Joe Drought, both from Rochelle. Will two challengers split the Harn opposition vote? Will the media's and Ogle County Board's attention to two fund expenditures have any impact, positive or negative, for Harn? It will be interesting to find out.
3. Lee County Sheriff, Republican Party
Like the race for Ogle County sheriff, there is no Democratic Party candidate, though the party could fill the vacancy after the primary election. John Varga, who has been sheriff since 2006, is being challenged by John Simonton, a Dixon police officer and retired state police lieutenant.
4. Ogle County State's Attorney, Republican Party
Mike Rock, who was appointed Ogle County state's attorney early last year, faces a primary challenge from attorney Eric Morrow. How has Rock's first year on the job gone? Republican voters will weigh in. There is no Democratic Party candidate.
5. Sales tax increase proposals
Voters in Whiteside and Carroll counties will be asked to approve a 1 percentage point sales tax to be used to pay for school building projects. Such requests have been rejected in the past in the Sauk Valley. Any reason to expect anything different this time around?
There also are contested Republican Party primaries in the U.S. Senate race (to challenge Sen. Dick Durbin) and for state treasurer. Bonus points if you can name the candidates.
Also, 16th district Congressman Adam Kinzinger is being challenged by Rockford Tea Party coordinator David Hale in the Republican primary. Not seeing any evidence that race will turn interesting, either.
But you never know. There's a month to go.