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Petition mission accomplished for Illinois candidates

Monday marked the first day established party candidates could file for office, and there were plenty in line, jockeying for top spots on the ballot

Three candidates running in the Illinois Democratic governor primary filed their election paperwork Monday, vying for the first spot on the March ballot.

Billionaire hotel heir and investor J.B. Pritzker, businessman Chris Kennedy and state Sen. Daniel Biss each submitted petitions at 8 a.m., which means there’ll be a lottery to determine who appears first on the March 20 primary ballot.

On the Republican side, Gov. Bruce Rauner won’t have to worry about his ballot position. He was the lone Republican to file for governor on Monday when the State Board of Elections opened for business. State Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, a three-term lawmaker, said she will submit her petitions to challenge Rauner in the GOP primary later. The deadline is Monday.

It’s considered a slight advantage to appear first on the list of names on the ballot, as well as a sign of political strength to turn up on the first day of filing with many more signatures than required.

In Springfield, hundreds of candidates and political staffers stood in long lines. Some candidates had camped out overnight and staff with the Democratic Party of Illinois arrived days before to get a spot at the front of the line. Candidates clutched large stacks of petitions, and joked about their arms being tired as they posed for photos.

Standing near the front door, Democratic Rep. Theresa Mah of Chicago marveled at the difference a few years make, noting she was at the back of the line when she first ran for office in 2015. Back then, she didn’t have the backing of the Democratic Party, which is run by longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan.

“I am taking advantage of the benefits of incumbency. I was way in the back of the line 2 years ago, I didn’t have the party support, and now I do,” Mah said. “I get to hop to the front of the line.

“I think the speaker’s staff, the Democratic Party, they’ve been here since Thanksgiving from what I understand,” Mah said.

The governor’s race headlines the statewide ballot next year. On the Democratic side, several more announced candidates did file Monday, including Madison County regional schools superintendent Bob Daiber and activist Tio Hardiman.

Kennedy was not present for the festivities, but his running mate, Ra Joy of Chicago, noted the large sums of money that already have flowed into the race from Pritzker and Rauner. Joy said that while Kennedy’s campaign has just begun to air television ads, it planned to win votes “the old-fashioned way” by going door to door. That’s difficult to do in a statewide race, however.

“We’re not going to win the money race, but we are going to win the people race,” Joy said. “We are appealing to people who recognize that Bruce Rauner has been a disaster for our state.”

Attorney General, Scretary of State

There also was plenty of competition among Democrats for the primary nomination for attorney general, a seat Lisa Madigan is giving up after four terms.

Former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who Rauner ousted in 2014, was among the 8 a.m. filers for the office along with state Sen. Kwame Raoul, state Rep. Scott Drury, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering and attorney Renato Mariotti. Other announced candidates who have not yet filed included attorneys Sharon Fairley and Jesse Ruiz.

Among Republicans seeking the attorney general’s office, Erika Harold of Urbana was the lone 8 a.m. filer and will appear atop the ballot for that race if she faces a primary challenger.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, seeking a sixth term in office, was the only other filer at 8 a.m. among other statewide offices on the ballot.

Candidates for statewide office need a minimum of 5,000 valid signatures from voters to make the ballot and can file a maximum of 10,000 signatures. In lieu of seeking the top ballot spot, some candidates look to be the last contender and try to file for office just before the Dec. 4 filing period ends at 5 p.m.


©2017 the Chicago Tribune

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