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updated: 2/21/2014 4:32 AM

Will Democrats take Republican ballots March 18?

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  • Dan Rutherford

      Dan Rutherford

  • With more action on the GOP primary ballot than the Democratic one, will Democrats cross over and vote Republican?

      With more action on the GOP primary ballot than the Democratic one, will Democrats cross over and vote Republican?
    Daily Herald File Photo

 
 

The compelling Republican primary race for governor continues to dwarf anything happening on the Democratic ballot on March 18, so the question naturally arises whether Democrats might take a break from their own party, pull a Republican ballot and get in on the GOP action.

Will that really happen?

Paul Green, director of the Institute of Politics at Roosevelt University, says he doesn't think so, at least not in an election-swinging kind of way.

"You don't get this massive crossover," he said.

For one, Democrats do have down-ballot races that the kinds of die-hards that vote in primaries might be interested in, and you can't vote in both parties' primaries at the same time.

Green says he does expect Republican turnout to be high. The four-way race to be the nominee for governor could draw out of their homes Republicans who have taken a few primaries off or independents who typically skip primary elections.

But Democrats? Time will tell.

"I don't necessarily think it's going to come from Democrats switching over," Green said.

Nowhere to hide ...

There's no barrier in Illinois to voting for a party you don't normally support. You don't have to register in advance. Just step up and request whichever ballot you want.

Just know that it's public record which one you take, and that those records have caused some suburban political aspirants headaches over the years.

Some conservatives have criticized 8th District Republican candidate for Congress Manju Goel for pulling Democratic ballots in 2008 and 2012.

Goel, who faces Larry Kaifesh of Carpentersville in the primary, says she wanted to vote for Democrat Stephanie Kifowit for the Illinois House, who eventually won.

A state law says candidates can't run in one party if they've pulled an opposing ballot, though courts have interpreted that to be an issue only if it happens in the same election cycle.

In 2010, Republican Steve Rauschenberger almost wasn't allowed to run for Illinois Senate because in 2009 he pulled a Democratic ballot to vote for his sister when she ran for township trustee.

State Sen. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park had no such luck in 2008. He pulled a Republican ballot in that year's primary, then, months later, was drafted to be the Democratic candidate for Illinois Senate against Republican incumbent Carole Pankau. Cullerton was eventually booted from the ballot in 2008 but won a Democratic primary in 2012 and beat Pankau that year.

'Various employment issues'

The stunning political drama that has been Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford's run for governor started in a pretty mundane way.

In response to a records request, the treasurer's office supplied the first email sent to them by the attorney for Ed Michalowski, who is accusing Rutherford of sexual harassment and political misdeeds.

Rutherford strongly denies the claims.

But attorney Christine Svenson's first contact Jan. 23 was in a letter attached to an email to treasurer's office attorney Neil Olson. It mentioned none of the details.

It reads: "Please be advised that I have been retained to represent Mr. Edmund Michalowski regarding various employment issues. May we confer by telephone at your earliest convenience?"

Rutherford says Svenson later asked for $300,000 to settle.

Eight days later, Jan. 31, Rutherford held a news conference referring to the claims of "various employment issues." The specifics came out a little more than a week later, Feb. 10, when Michalowski filed a federal lawsuit and Rutherford had a news conference at a Schaumburg hotel denying the claims.

Last physicist standing?

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, a Democrat from New Jersey, announced he wouldn't run for re-election next year.

That means, if re-elected in November, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster would become the only physicist in Congress. (Unless, of course, some physicist from elsewhere wins a seat.)

Foster expressed sadness about Holt's retirement but used the occasion to talk about science in politics.

"While I am proud to carry the torch for physicists in Congress, it is clear that we need more scientists in public office," he said in a statement.

"Too much of our Congress is made up of lawyers and career politicians who are trained in the art of arguing, but not in problem solving or analyzing data to develop common-sense solutions."

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