How Trump, Clinton backlash could affect Illinois 2018 races

Many delegates at both the Republican and Democratic conventions expressed dissatisfaction with their parties' presidential nominees, and that discord could have an effect on Illinois' 2018 election.

Voters upset with the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could turn to Libertarian Gary Johnson or the Green Party's Jill Stein for president on their Illinois ballots. And if either - or both - gets more than 5 percent of the vote, it'll be much easier for those parties to get a candidate for governor on the 2018 ballot.

That's because crossing the 5 percent threshold in Illinois means a party's statewide contenders would only need 5,000 petition signatures to get on the ballot instead of 25,000.

Ten years ago, Green Party candidate for governor Rich Whitney got nearly 10 percent of the vote, making it easier for his party to get ballot access, at least temporarily.

Gaining exposure

Illinois' Libertarian Party chairman Lex Green said meeting that 5 percent threshold this time is a clear priority.

"Donors and media do not want to talk to us until after we've gotten ballot access," he said.

Still, it's too early to say how much of a role third-party candidates would play in the 2018 election. In 2014, Chad Grimm, the Libertarian candidate for governor, got a little more than 3 percent of the vote. The Green Party candidate got kicked off the ballot before Election Day.

Another lawmaker gone

While former state Rep. Ron Sandack's abrupt resignation from the Illinois House this week was a surprising move by the Downers Grove Republican, his departure put him on a substantial bipartisan list of suburban lawmakers who won't be in Springfield for the second half of Gov. Bruce Rauner's term - and there hasn't even been an election yet.

In May, Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo said he wouldn't run for re-election, seeking the McHenry County Board chairmanship instead. Republican Sen. Dan Duffy of Lake Barrington and Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge both left earlier this year for new jobs.

Democratic state Sen. Mike Noland of Elgin ran for Congress. And Republican state Reps. Ed Sullivan of Mundelein and Mike Tryon of Crystal Lake both declined to run for re-election.

There are departures downstate, too, and incumbent losses in November would add to the list.

What's new is old

Questions about whether U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin would run for governor in 2018 bubbled up at the Democratic Party convention this week.

"It's a question about where I can best spend my life. Where can I achieve the goals that I want in public life? If I can do it in Washington and I feel I can be more effective there, of course that's where I'll stay," Durbin told the Daily Herald about a potential run for governor - back in 2000.

He would go on to win re-election in 2002.

"I won't make the final decision for some time now," he said at the 2000 convention in comments that reflect what he's said this week. "I want to focus on this election campaign first."

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