10th House: Former Democratic state Rep. Derrick Smith of Chicago was ejected from the House in August after his arrest on a federal bribery charge. But he's pleaded not guilty and is still in the race. Democrats trying to block him found an opponent in "Unity Party" candidate Lance Tyson, a bond lawyer who served as chief of staff to former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.
52nd House: Republican businessman David McSweeney of Barrington Hills is trying to hold the district of the late Mark Beaubien for the GOP. He faces an unlikely opponent in Beaubien's widow, Independent Dee Beaubien, also of Barrington Hills, who has an even more unlikely backer: She's received tens of thousands of dollars from political committees controlled by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.
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59th House: The only election under a newly drawn legislative map pitting two incumbents against each other -- Rep. Sidney Mathias, a Buffalo Grove Republican and a seven-term incumbent, against Rep. Carol Sente, a Vernon Hills Democrat and a House member since 2009. A major issue is the impact on property taxes if school boards have to pick up the employer portion of pension costs. Sente says the shift can be accomplished if done over an extended period to allow schools to adjust. Mathias disagrees.
79th House: In a traditionally Democratic area where Rep. Lisa Dugan is retiring, Republican Glenn Nixon, a police officer from Bourbonnais, is making it close against business owner Katherine "Kate" Cloonen, a Kankakee Democrat. Both prominently tout their credentials as protectors of gun owners' rights.
36th Senate: Sen. Mike Jacobs, a Democrat from East Moline, was appointed to the seat when his father retired in 2005. Supporters call him a straight-talking, hardworking advocate for his district. Opponents say he's a hotheaded tax-and-spend liberal. He faces political newcomer Bill Albracht, a Moline Republican who spent 25 years with the Secret Service.
48th Senate: Competing for the open seat are Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who is chairman of the Macoupin County Board and former chief of staff to Senate President John Cullerton, and Decatur Mayor Mike McElroy, a Republican businessman. McElroy calls Manar an insider who is "part of the problem" in Springfield. Manar touts his unpopular moves to cut Macoupin County spending and the size of the county board during tough economic times.