Where the big primary races will be in suburbs

Despite frustration over a historic budget impasse in Springfield, Republicans and Democrats in the suburbs so far are avoiding dramatic primary election challenges to their veteran incumbents, state elections records show.

Monday is the last day for candidates to make their intentions known, and so far, the only major local primary contests for seats at the state Capitol are where incumbents - Rep. Mike Tryon of Crystal Lake and Sen. Mike Noland of Elgin - are departing. A primary race for the seat of retiring Sen. Dan Duffy of Lake Barrington is likely to develop Monday, too. The primary election is March 15.

<h3 class="leadin">The next chapter

Two of the biggest Statehouse races in the suburbs in the November general election will be that way for pretty simple reasons.

State Sen. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park is a Democrat in traditionally Republican DuPage County and facing his first re-election campaign. That's a recipe for a tough, expensive race against Republican challenger Seth Lewis of Bartlett, who ran for an Illinois House seat in 2014 and lost.

Seth Lewis

"I knew that from the moment I got elected," Cullerton said.

Cullerton won in 2012, when Democrats swept almost every competitive race in the suburbs on their way to historic majorities at the state Capitol.

<h3 class="leadin">Further north

Melinda Bush

The other clear big race: The re-election contest of Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat.

Since the late Sen. Adeline Geo-Karis left the Illinois Senate with the 2006 election, the seat has flipped parties with every election. A Democrat won in 2006. A Republican won in 2010. Bush won in 2012.

Now, Republicans will try to flip it again, and Lake County GOP Chairman Michael Amrozowicz of Gurnee has signed up for the race. He says he wants to continue the tasks voters sent Gov. Bruce Rauner to accomplish, like trying to improve the state's business climate.

He says the "Land of Lincoln" has turned into "The Land of Leavin'."

Bush says she's ready for the chance to win re-election to the seat for the first time since Geo-Karis.

She points to votes she says show her independence, like her vote against Democrats' budget plan in the spring and against Democrats' proposal to create a controversial Lake County election commission in 2013. The idea was eventually booted by a judge.

"Ultimately, the courts agreed with my opinion," Bush said.

<h3 class="leadin">Only a dozen?

Rob Sherman

Buffalo Grove atheist Rob Sherman has filed to run as a Green Party candidate for the congressional seat now held by Democrat Mike Quigley of Chicago.

Sherman says he supports the Green Party's principles, and his website lays out his agenda.

The first point: "Eliminate Christmas as a federal holiday."

"Christians want to put Christ back into Christmas. I agree!" the site reads. "The way to do that is to get the federal government out of the religion business because, when government does religion, it has to water it down and make it bland and generic in order to pretend that it's secular and constitutional."

Sherman lives in the 8th Congressional District being vacated by Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates as she runs for U.S. Senate. But he lives close to Quigley's 5th District, too. So why did he decide to run in the district next door?

Because of a quirk in Illinois' complicated election laws, Sherman would need more than 7,700 petition signatures to get on the ballot in the 8th District as a Green Party candidate.

To get on the ballot in the 5th District, Sherman needed just 12 signatures.

<h3 class="leadin">Will he stay on?

  Streamwood resident Andrew Straw in 2013 took his crusade to make parking lots and businesses to his home suburb and Hanover Park. Here he points out the right way in a Streamwood lot to set up such parking, having more than six well-marked spots per parking lot. Mark Welsh/

Republican Andrew Straw of Streamwood says he filed 128 signatures to get on the 8th District ballot as a Republican even though state law says he needs 475.

Straw, a disability rights attorney, says a 2001 car crash that left him with two broken legs makes it hard for him to stand for long periods of time. He sent the Illinois State Board of Elections a letter with his petition asking for leniency.

"I made an effort," Straw said. "I got out there."

Republican DuPage County Board member Pete DiCianni says he turned in more signatures than the minimum to get on the ballot in the 8th.

The state board will hear objections and make ballot decisions in the coming weeks.

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