The countdown to Election Day in Illinois has started.
On Monday, candidates had their first chance to get on the June 28 primary ballot from Cook County to Springfield.
Petition signature day in Springfield is the tradition when candidates file paperwork to get their names on the primary ballot.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker was on hand.
“We’ve brought thousands and thousands of petition signatures to file from all 102 counties in Illinois,” Pritzker said.
Petitions are normally due in November, but the primary election was pushed back to June 28 due to a delay in census data caused by the pandemic. Monday morning, candidates braved the cold and wind and lined up early hoping to capture the top spot on the ballot.
Now the inside baseball begins. Campaigns can challenge an opponent’s signatures. Under law, candidates are required to follow an exacting process with their signatures or risk not making the ballot.
WGN News political analyst Paul Lisnek anticipates some candidates won’t play nice.
“They better get thousands of extras because someone out there is going to want to knock them off the ballot.”
Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin looks to challenge Pritzker’s governorship.
“Crime is out of control under J.B. Pritzker, taxes and wasteful spending is out of control,” Irvin said. “Corruption is out of control and our residents of Illinois want a difference.”
The hottest contest is at the top of the ballot. Five Republicans are serious candidates for their party’s nomination for governor.
“It’s really interesting to see the diversity among the candidates from the very Trump-like Darren Bailey to the very “Don’t tie me to Donald Trump” and everybody in between,” Lisnek said.
Another closely watched race is the Democratic primary for Secretary of State. Former Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is in with Chicago Clerk Anna Valencia and Alderman David Moore.
“You have Alexi Giannoulias who clearly was the frontrunner and gets the nod of the Cook County Democratic Party. But boom! Anna Valencia shows up and gets the approval of Jesse White, the current officeholder,” Lisnek said. “That’s amazing.”
The GOP primary for Secretary of State features State Rep. Dan Brady versus John Milhiser.
Every U.S. House of Representatives seat is on the ballot this year.
Two Democratic primaries are being closely watched. In Illinois’ first congressional district, more than 15 candidates are vying to replace retiring Congressman Bobby Rush. Chicago Alderwoman Pat Dowell is among them.
“I am full of joy. I’m excited about this morning,” Dowell said. “I did not expect the line to be this long.”
In the 6th Congressional District, a newly drawn map has led to a battle between Congressman Sean Casten, more of a centrist Democrat, versus Congresswoman Marie Newman, a star among progressives.
Candidates have until next Monday, March 14, to officially file for office. Voters can request mail-in ballots starting March 30.