Election filing starts today in Illinois

A full state budget hasn't been approved since before Illinois' last election, but candidates today will start running in the next one.

Candidates for offices as high as the U.S. Senate will start turning in their petition signatures today to get on the March primary ballot, making their bids official. They have until Nov. 30 to file their intentions to run.

An elections official says the state is ready to accept candidates' paperwork, even though Illinois' financial war has held up some areas of state government.

"Everything is business as usual," said Jim Tenuto, assistant executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Business as usual could mean hard-fought primary races up and down the ballot in Illinois and the suburbs. At the top, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Highland Park is running for re-election in the Republican primary, and Oswego software consultant James Marter says he'll try to mount a challenge.

On the Democratic side, state Sen. Napoleon Harris of Harvey last week joined a primary that includes U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates and former Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp.

Candidate filing could reveal unknown candidates in lots of races, including for seats at the Illinois Capitol, where top Democrats and Gov. Bruce Rauner have been locked in a budget battle since the spring.

As usual, the fight for power at the Statehouse will go through the suburbs, where independent voters in competitive districts will have a big say in whether Democrats keep their historically large majority in Springfield.

Some observers have pointed to the candidate filing week as critical for solving the ongoing state budget impasse. Incumbent lawmakers might approach tough votes differently depending on whether they face a serious challenger.

And for Congress, the North suburban 10th District once again will be nationally watched as Republican Rep. Bob Dold of Kenilworth tries to win re-election. Democrat Brad Schneider is trying to win a return trip to Congress and is set to face Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering in the primary.

Many county seats are up, too, but local mayors and school board members get a pass this time. They were newly elected in April.

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