In passionate campaign, Illinois voters talk of gut emotions

CHICAGO (AP) - In an unusually passionate campaign season, gut emotion propelled many Illinois voters to the polls Tuesday. While some defined issues in this race that were dear to them, they were quick to talk in more emotional strokes of trust, revulsion, anger and maturity.

Retired Chicago machine repairman Juan Araujo said he voted for Democratic U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders because he "talks from the heart" and has Polish immigrant roots. He said he never would vote for Republican Donald Trump because - in his words - he's a "clown" who's not serious enough for the White House.

In the state capital, Trump supporter Gayle Swoik said she was drawn to the billionaire businessman - who ultimately won the state's GOP primary - because of his tough language on immigration and a sense that he'd be good to veterans like those in her family. But she acknowledged feeling fuzzy on the details.

"His policies are in transition," Swoik said.

On Chicago's heavily Democratic South Side, voters talked mostly of Hillary Clinton - who won the primary in her native state - and Sanders. But they also had their eyes on Trump, as they considered which candidate had the best shot at defeating the Republican front-runner in November should he win the GOP nomination.

Sharon Schaffer said she's praying that former Secretary of State Clinton can beat Trump if they end up facing each other. Trump's heated language on immigration and minorities has angered voters like her.

"I can't stand him," she said of Trump, joking that if he wins she'll leave the country. "I will go back to Africa - and I've never been," said the 65-year-old retiree.

Sheri Scott, a customer service worker and mother of three, voted for Sanders, saying she thinks the Vermont senator has a better shot against Trump because she believes he's more trustworthy than Clinton.

"I believe he's a genuine person with a good heart. I trust him," she said.

Illinois voters also chose Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth to vie in November for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Mark Kirk, who's seeking re-election, and weighed in on several congressional and Statehouse races. Also on the ballot was the Democratic primary for Cook County state's attorney - a race that saw incumbent Anita Alvarez ousted by challenger Kim Foxx after Alvarez's handling of the case of a white Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager 16 times drew national attention.

Election officials said interest seemed higher than usual, at least in Chicago, where a record number of people cast early primary ballots.

Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen said the number of people asking for Republican ballots also increased from eight years ago, from around 6 percent of voters to just less than 10 percent this election. That's a possible sign of Democratic voters wanting to weigh in on the GOP presidential primary.

Penny Shank was among voters choosing that strategy. She celebrated her 69th birthday Tuesday by picking up a Republican ballot for the first time at Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Springfield, Illinois, to vote against Trump and other Republican candidates whom she called Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's "cronies."

"I think there are a lot of Democrats who are crossing over just to do that," said Shank, who voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. "I think Trump is an absolute joke."

She objects to Trump's views on immigration and women's rights.

For Republican voters like Don O'Neal, of Springfield, it came down to choosing who he thought was the "least confrontational candidate." He voted for Kasich.

"He has the most practical experience in governing," he said. "He's acting like more of an adult than some of the others."

Associated Press writers Don Babwin in Chicago and Ashley Lisenby in Springfield, Illinois, contributed to this report.

Frances Song exits a voting booth with her children Anna, left, Abraham, rear, and John, right, after voting at the Savoy Recreation Center in Savoy, Ill., Tuesday March 15, 2016. Voters in Illinois, as well as North Carolina, Florida, Missouri and Ohio are casting their ballots in primary elections Tuesday. (Rick Danzl/The News-Gazette via AP)
Actor and rap singer Common votes at the polling station in the Southlawn United Methodist Church in Chicago, Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Voters in Illinois, as well as North Carolina, Florida, Missouri and Ohio are casting their ballots in primary elections today. (James Foster/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.