5 things to watch now that the conventions are over

With the balloons all popped and the two party conventions over, the hyper political battle for votes in November will take a break for a while to give Republicans and Democrats a chance to relax.

Just kidding.

Cleveland and Philadelphia are vacated of traveling partisans, but the race now comes back home. Here's what to watch for before Election Day.

• Will there be a presidential race here?

Illinois has voted for a Democrat for president every year since 1992. President Barack Obama even managed to turn some red counties blue the last couple elections, including two straight wins in the traditional Republican stronghold of DuPage County. So, will the candidates pay much attention to Illinois?

Republican nominee Donald Trump back in May suggested he'd try: "I put so many states in play: Michigan being one. Illinois." Fans of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won't see it that way, of course. But both candidates in recent weeks showed they may still swing through town. Clinton made a stop in Springfield and had a fundraising stop in the suburbs the same day. Trump had a Chicago fundraiser this month, too.

• What will the suburbs do?

In 2014, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's domination over Democrat Pat Quinn in suburban counties told a big story of his victory. Four years before, GOP candidate Bill Brady won collar counties, but Rauner won them by much larger margins, grabbing big leads over Quinn in the state's most populous area.

"The suburbs were absolutely critical," Republican state Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine said at the time. "He's not governor without the suburbs, period."

Presidential years are different, though, with bigger turnouts that in previous years have favored Democrats. How suburban voters turn out for the presidential race could affect races far down the ballot in a big way.

So who suburban voters pick in November could be meaningful here, even if Illinois doesn't matter much to the presidential race on a national level.

• Park Ridge

The Democratic convention nodded toward Clinton's youth in Park Ridge as the speakers and videos at the event sought to show a personal side of the candidate.

Her childhood friend Betsy Ebeling of Arlington Heights was featured prominently in a video introducing Clinton's acceptance speech, and her husband talked about his time going to Park Ridge as well.

"I actually drove her home to Park Ridge, Illinois, to meet her family and see the town where she grew up, a perfect example of post-World War II middle-class America. Street after street of nice houses, great schools, good parks, a big public swimming pool," he said. "And almost all white."

To what degree will the city play a role in the narrative of the rest of the campaign? Stay tuned.

• Senate race

For Illinois, this is the big one.

Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Highland Park is fighting for re-election against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates.

Both had stories to tell at the conventions in distinctly different ways.

For Kirk, it was by not going, a move that amplified his disagreements with Trump.

"I joke to (Sen.) Ben Sasse that if Trump wins, he'll be my roommate at Gitmo," Kirk joked in a New York Times story.

For Duckworth, it was a speech on the main stage on the final day of the Democratic convention.

"By the way, Donald Trump," she said, "I didn't put my life on the line to defend our democracy so you could invite Russia to interfere in it."

• Statehouse races

They won't get the most ink, but the races for control of power at the Illinois Capitol have the power to shape the final two years of Rauner's term in office.

Republicans are looking to cut into Democrats' dominance of the House and Senate, making sure that the governor's future vetoes will stand.

Democrats, though, could deal a big blow to Rauner's agenda if they can maintain their large majorities or even pick up seats.

Several of the biggest battles for Statehouse seats will be fought in the suburbs, where candidates are already knocking on doors and preparing for November as the biggest political battles are waged in the ballot spots above them.

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