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Out Here: Action is in GOP primary

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 11:12 a.m. CDT

If you're a Democrat, you might want to seriously consider voting Republican – in Tuesday's primary election, that is.

After all, voting in the Democratic primary appears to be a relatively worthless exercise this year. Sure, you can vote whether to increase the sales tax to support schools, but you can do that in the Republican contest as well.

Republicans have a number of competitive, statewide primary races this year – for governor and state treasurer. There's also a GOP battle for U.S. senator, the winner earning the right to challenge Sen. Dick Durbin.

In Lee County, Republican voters have a choice for sheriff – incumbent John Varga is facing John Simonton. In Ogle County, the GOP has two major competitive races: Sheriff Michael Harn is being challenged by Joe Drought and Brian VanVickle, and State's Attorney Mike Rock is facing Eric Morrow. No Democrats are running in any of these races, so the primaries will likely decide them.

The Democrats have one statewide contest: Gov. Pat Quinn is facing Chicago activist Tio Hardiman. But no one seriously believes that Hardiman has a chance. As of Dec. 31, Quinn had hauled in $1.8 million for his campaign, while Hardiman had taken in $15,485.

In some states, you have to register as a Republican or Democrat before voting in your party's primaries. In Illinois, you can decide whether to go Democratic or Republican at the polling place.

The Republican front-runner for governor, Bruce Rauner, knows this and fears Democrats will make mischief in the GOP primary. The other day, he issued a news release citing union leaders' calls for members to vote in the Republican primary to stop the wealthy Rauner by voting for union-backed Kirk Dillard.

"Democrats are doing everything they can to hijack the Republican primary," the release said.

Bustos fundraiser in Rock Falls

I've written before that U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, is shy about giving details on her fundraising efforts. That's not unusual. Politicians prefer to discuss their meetings with "real people," not their chase for campaign dollars.

In November, Bustos will face her predecessor, Republican Bobby Schilling, in the 17th Congressional District, which includes Whiteside County.

Political observers see this race as competitive, unlike the token opposition in most districts.

On Monday, which is St. Patrick's Day, a fundraiser for Bustos will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the offices of Pignatelli & Associates at 102 E. Route 30 in Rock Falls. Music will be provided by the Irish Music School of Chicago Band.

The suggested donation is $50 a person.

"The goal is to let Cheri know how much we appreciate and support her," attorney Lou Pignatelli said in an email to Bustos supporters.

No reservations are required, he told me in a phone interview. Tickets are available in advance.

Call Pignatelli's office at 815-626-0500 for more information.

David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at dgiuliani@saukvalley.com or 800-798-4085, ext. 525. Follow him on Twitter: @DGiuliani_SVM.

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