Why some congressional candidates could get kicked off the March primary ballot

Four congressional candidates running for seats serving the North, West and Northwest suburbs could be kept off the March 2024 primary ballot if formal complaints about their nominating petitions are upheld.

A fifth candidate facing a petition objection said he’ll drop out rather than fight the challenge.

Two of the targeted candidates are Democrats running in the 5th District, where they hope to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley of Chicago. Two are Republicans running for the 14th District seat now held by U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, a Naperville Democrat.

The fifth is a Democrat who filed to run for the 9th District seat held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston. That candidate said last week he will suspend his campaign because of the objection.

The complaints were filed last week with the Illinois State Board of Elections, on the last day objections could be lodged.

The elections board will decide if the paperwork issues exist and are significant enough to knock any of the candidates out of contention. The cases will be assigned to hearing officers Tuesday, a spokesman said.

5th District

The objections against the candidacies of Democrats Jonathan Antonio Bishop and Jerico Matias Cruz were filed by Chicago resident Kent Sinson.

In both cases, Sinson alleges the petitions weren’t signed by enough registered 5th District voters, according to copies of the complaints shared with the Daily Herald by the candidates.

Jonathan Antonio Bishop, a Palatine Democrat, is running for Congress in the 5th House District. (Courtesy of Just Peachy Photography) Courtesy of Just Peachy Photography

Bishop, a first-time candidate from Palatine, said his team “worked diligently” to meet the ballot requirements.

“This objection is representative of the faults in the current system that seek to disadvantage average Americans from being involved in the electoral process,” Bishop said. “(They) elevate bureaucrats who’ve intentionally created a system built to guarantee their success.”

Cruz, who unsuccessfully ran for the 5th District seat in 2022 as an independent, said he collected enough signatures.

Jerico Matias Cruz, a Chicago Democrat, is running for Congress in the 5th District.

Sinson is a lawyer who has repeatedly donated to Quigley’s campaigns, according to Federal Election Commission data. He’s also no stranger to the objection process, having successfully challenged the petitions of Quigley’s Democratic challenger in 2022, Rami Blan. As a result of Blan’s eventual disqualification, Quigley ran for the Democratic nomination unopposed that year.

Sinson couldn’t be reached for comment.

Quigley has served the 5th District since a special election in 2009 and is seeking his eighth full term.

Republican Tommy Hanson, a Chicagoan making his fifth bid for Congress, is the lone GOP candidate in the 5th and will face the eventual Democratic nominee in the Nov. 5 general election.

The 5th District cuts diagonally through Cook and Lake counties between Chicago’s North Side and the Barrington area.

9th District

Park Ridge Democrat Michael Donahue’s nominating petitions were jointly challenged by Linda Buyer of Chicago and Christian Sorensen of Evanston.

A copy of the objection wasn’t available for public review. But when asked via email to comment about the challenge, Donahue said he may not have gathered enough legal signatures to get on the ballot.

“After careful review, the number I have will be right on the bubble,” Donahue said. “With the objection, it’s not likely I would remain (on the ballot) this cycle, so I thought it best to drop out rather than spend the time and money required to fight the objection.”

Buyer is a retired Governors State University professor who has repeatedly donated to the campaigns of Schakowsky and other Democratic candidates, according to state and federal campaign data.

Sorensen is a Democratic Party official in Evanston who has worked on numerous suburban political campaigns and formerly was chief of staff for state Rep. Robyn Gabel of Evanston, who is the House’s Democratic leader. He’s also donated cash to Schakowsky’s campaign committee and other Democratic campaigns, according to state and federal campaign data.

Neither Buyer nor Sorensen could be reached for comment.

The 9th District includes parts of Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.

Schakowsky has held the seat since 1998 and is seeking a 14th term. No Republican candidates stepped up to run in the primary, so the party could nominate someone for the general election.

14th District

Charlie Kim, Republican candidate for the 14th Congressional District seat

Two of the three candidates for the Republican nomination in the 14th District are facing petition challenges filed by the same person.

The targeted candidates are Charlie Kim of Aurora and Krystal Dorey of Lockport. The objections, which haven’t yet been made public, were submitted by Plainfield resident Timothy Conrad.

Neither Kim nor Dorey responded to requests for comment. Conrad couldn’t be reached, either.

Also running for the GOP nomination is James Marter of Oswego, a library board member and the Kendall County Republican Party chair. Marter unsuccessfully ran for the 14th District seat in 2020 and in 2022, losing the GOP nomination last year to Scott Gryder. Marter has sought other federal posts through the years, too.

Across the aisle, Underwood is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination. First elected in 2018, she’s hoping for a fourth term in Congress.

The 14th District encompasses parts of Kane, Will, DeKalb, Kendall, LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam counties.

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