SPRINGFIELD -- Legislative races for the March 20 primary election are virtually set, with a number of potentially heated contests shaping up across the suburbs.
Yet many incumbents will not face opposition in the primary.
Candidates' deadline to file for the Illinois General Assembly was 5 p.m. Monday. Now, the makeup of the races shouldn't change unless people drop out or candidacies are challenged, a process that begins soon.
DuPage County is likely to see some of the most hotly contested races, with GOP Republican primaries for the Illinois Senate between Rep. Randy Ramey of Carol Stream and Sen. Carole Pankau of Itasca in the 23rd District, as well as Rep. Chris Nybo of Elmhurst vs. Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale in the 24th.
On the Democratic side of the 23rd District, Greg Brownfield of Bartlett, Thomas Cullerton of Villa Park and Kevin Allen of Addison will seek the nomination.
And Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont picked up a challenger when Duane Bradley of Lemont filed in the 41st District.
In the House, Sen. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove will face Deborah Boyle of Downers Grove in the new 84th District. Four Republicans will square off in the 42nd: Chris Hage of Wheaton, Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, Laura Pollastrini of Carol Stream and Dave Carlin of Naperville.
In Cook County, three Republicans will vie for the chance to face Democratic Rep. Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates -- Ramiro Juarez of Streamwood, Tom Lezon of Hanover Park and Cary Collins of Hoffman Estates.
And the Republicans have a Cook County battle for the Senate, too, where Jim O'Donnell of Park Ridge and Mayor Gayle Smolinski of Roselle will campaign against each other until March.
In Kane County, there are two major Democratic matchups. Sen. Michael Noland of Elgin is facing newcomer Tim Elenz of Streamwood in the new 22nd Senate District, and three Democrats are vying for a House seat with no incumbent opponent in the new 84th District: Alex Arroyo, Stephanie Kifowit and Ken Maurice, all of Aurora.
Both the 22nd and 84th districts "are in pretty Democratic areas," said Kane County Democratic Chairman Mark Guethle.
The Republicans also have big races in Kane County, including a state Senate battle between Karen McConnaughay of St. Charles, Cliff Surges of Gilberts and Craig Powers of Geneva in the 33rd District. On Monday, Kane County Regional School Board member Chad Koppie announced he wouldn't file in that race and is backing Surges instead.
On the Democratic side of that race is Corinne Pierog of St. Charles and Steven Hunter of Geneva.
And in the 25th District, dairy magnate Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove makes his return to Illinois politics, facing Dave Richmond of Batavia and Richard Slocum of Sugar Grove in the Republican primary.
In Lake County, Sen. Suzi Schmidt decided not to run in the 31st Senate District GOP primary. Republicans Larry Leafblad of Grayslake, Lennie Jarratt of Round Lake Beach, Michael White of Lindenhurst and Joe Neal of Wadsworth will compete.
Next door, Republicans Don Castella of Lincolnshire and Gregory Jacobs of Mundelein will compete in the 30th District for the opportunity to try to unseat Democratic Sen. Terry Link of Waukegan in the fall.
In the House, Rep. Kent Gaffney of Lake Barrington will run against David McSweeney of Barrington Hills and Danielle Rowe of Island Lake in the 52nd District Republican primary. And Rep. JoAnn Osmond faces a challenge from Rodney Cook of Wadsworth in the 61st District GOP race.
The next step is the objections process. Through Dec. 12, candidates or their supporters can object to their opponents' candidacies, arguing that petitions aren't valid and trying to get contenders knocked off the ballot.
In the meantime, though, the sparring between the hopefuls will begin, if it hasn't already.
Many party leaders will be staying out of the fights, choosing to get behind whomever wins in March.
"The party is going to back the person the voters select in the primary," Cook said.
Although candidate filing is over, the boundaries of legislative districts remain in question. Democrats drew new district boundaries this year as part of a every-decade process reflecting new census figures. Republicans sued to block the new map, and that lawsuit is pending.
So is a lawsuit against the new congressional map. As a result, a judge in that case pushed filing for Congress back to Dec. 21.