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posted: 9/3/2013 5:30 AM

Now election campaign season starts in earnest

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Just nine months after new members of Congress and the Illinois General Assembly were sworn in, candidates Tuesday can start circulating petitions for the 2014 election.

Candidates who want to run for office have to collect hundreds of signatures and turn them in starting Nov. 25. The primary election is set for March 18.

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In the suburbs, Tuesday is a signpost for the start of what's sure to be an active campaign season. Both Democrats and Republicans have primary races for governor, and the suburbs are home to what might be one of the most watched general election races for Congress in the nation when U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, a Deerfield Democrat, faces a rematch with former Republican Congressman Bob Dold of Kenilworth.

So far, the major primary race for Congress in the suburbs is the Republican contest to take on U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a Naperville Democrat. At least three candidates are lining up so far: Republicans Chris Balkema, a Grundy County Board member; Ian Bayne, an Aurora private investigator; and state Rep. Darlene Senger of Naperville.

Because candidates have until November to turn in signatures, much remains unclear locally, though. For example, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a Hoffman Estates Democrat, hasn't yet been challenged publicly by anyone.

And because candidates for governor have to turn in petitions that include their running mates' names, they're likely to start announcing their picks for lieutenant governor soon.

Jim Tenuto, a spokesman for the Illinois Board of Elections, said a new law allowing for online voter registration should be set for the November 2014 general election but likely won't be ready in time for the March primary election.

"I doubt if it'll be in place," he said.

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