Republicans slam new state election law favoring incumbents

SPRINGFIELD — With about three weeks to go before the Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn its spring legislative session, supermajority Democrats flexed their political muscle by fast-tracking a controversial election law favoring incumbents.

Republicans were miffed Democrats introduced the bill Wednesday morning before clearing it through both chambers and sending it to the governor for his signature — all within 48 hours.

The bill makes several changes to state election laws, but most significantly it bars political parties from appointing a candidate to a legislative general election race if no candidate ran for the seat in the primary election. The move protects incumbents.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill, which goes into effect immediately and would leave nine Senate races and 54 races for House seats uncontested in November, according to Illinois State Board of Elections records.

Eight of the nine uncontested Senate races are Democrats, including Elgin’s Cristina Castro, Laura Murphy of Des Plaines and Mary Edly-Allen of Libertyville.

Of the uncontested House races, 36 are Democrats and 18 are Republicans. Suburban uncontested House races include Democrats Janet Yang Rohr of Naperville, Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn, Anna Moeller of Elgin, Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates, Barbara Hernandez of Aurora, Mark Walker of Arlington Heights, Marty Moylan of Des Plaines, Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg, Rita Mayfield of Gurnee, Laura Faver Dias of Grayslake and Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego. Suburban Republicans Brad Stephens of Rosemont and Tom Weber of Lake Villa are also set to have no competition in November.

Republicans in both chambers voted “present” on the bill in protest, while a handful of Democrats voted against it or skipped voting altogether.

State Sen. John Curran, the Republican minority leader from Downers Grove, called the move a “dictator-style tactic.”

“This abuse of power that blocks candidates from giving voters a choice in free, fair and open elections is unprecedented in Illinois’ 205-year history,” he said. “Their dictator-style tactic of stealing an election before a vote is cast is a new low for elective government in this state and undermines the core principals of American democracy.”

Democrats maintained the ballot slating change works for both parties and is an effort to prevent party power brokers from having more sway than voters.

Pritzker on Thursday characterized the measure as “actually an ethics bill.”

The state GOP noted in a news release at least one other candidate, a challenger to Edly-Allen, had intended to seek ballot access under the now disallowed method as well. An official with the Senate Republicans’ political arm confirmed that candidate had already been slated but hasn’t turned in candidate petitions.

An official at the state election board said the agency would continue to accept filings through the June 3 deadline. Anyone objecting to those late filings can petition for hearing by June 10. The board is expected to decide those complaints at its June 17 meeting.

The bill only affects legislative races and does not prohibit post-primary slating for partisan county or township races, lawmakers said.

Daily Herald Staff Writer Jake Griffin contributed to this report.

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.