Lottery to determine how long Illinois Senate terms will be

SPRINGFIELD — Suburban candidates are beginning to line up to run for a seat in the Illinois Senate.

What they don’t know yet is how long they’d serve if elected.

It’s a quirk of the Illinois system that state senators serve either 2- or 4-year terms depending on an every-10-years lottery.

Over a decade, each Illinois Senate seat has two 4-year terms and one 2-year term. What order they come in is subject to a lottery, which sets a rotation for the entire Senate.

The lottery hasn’t been held yet. And it might not be held until next year, after lawsuits challenging the new political map have wrapped up.

“I don’t expect that there will be talks about specific dates given the lawsuit,” said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton.

That means declared Senate candidates like Kane County Board Chair Karen McConnaughay or Republican Sens. Matt Murphy and Dan Duffy know they’re planning for a 2012 election. But they don’t yet know when they’d face re-election if they win.

The lottery is organized by Secretary of State Jesse White’s office. Spokesman Henry Haupt said the last lottery included Senate leaders pulling numbers out of a fancy glass bowl.

It wasn’t settled until May 2002 last time — less than six months before Election Day. It could happen earlier, or later, this year.

Duffy said the uncertainty didn’t affect his re-election plans but said he’d like to know the answer when people ask him how long his next term would be.

“It would add some clarity if I knew,” he said.

Duffy said it does affect the recruitment of new Senate candidates, though, because they generally want to know how long they’d be committed to serve after a winning race.

“I can’t even tell them how long their term would be,” he said.

Karen McConnaughay
Matt Murphy