CHICAGO — Voters across the state on Tuesday decided competitive primary races for the U.S. House and Illinois Supreme Court as concerns about the coronavirus outbreak loomed large.
Here’s a look at turnout and key primary contests:
Election officials have been pushing early voting and voting by mail as ways to help contain crowds and slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak during the Illinois primary.
Statewide, roughly 600,000 early votes were cast with 296,000 ballots sent by mail as of Tuesday. That’s compared to 423,000 early votes and 162,000 mail ballots sent to voters in the same time period for the 2016 primary, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Still, there were issues at the polls Tuesday, particularly in Chicago where election officials had worried about a shortage of election judges and had to scramble to replacements for more than 200 polling places that had declined to host voters because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT
Seven Democrats are vying for a seat on the Illinois Supreme Court once held by the high court’s first black justice.
Democrat Charles Freeman, who died earlier this month at 86, held the post from 1990 to 2018, when he retired. P. Scott Neville, formerly an Illinois First District Appellate Court justice, was appointed to complete the term.
Neville and six other candidates are seeking a new 10-year term. With no Republicans, Tuesday’s winner will likely win November’s general election. Neville was leading late Tuesday, but the race was too close for The Associated Press to call.
The challengers include five 1st District appellate justices Cynthia V. Cobbs, Shelly A. Harris, Nathaniel Roosevelt Howse, Margaret Stanton McBride and Jesse G. Reyes and former private-practice attorney Daniel Epstein.
Neville came under fire last summer when WMAQ-TV in Chicago reported that he’d received a homeowner’s exemption on a home that listed his late mother as owner. Neville repaid $3,000 for four years in which he had received the exemption but didn’t live in the home.
In the only other Supreme Court race, David K. Overstreet defeated state appellate court colleague John Barberis Jr. for the Republican nomination in the southern Illinois district now held by retiring Republican Justice Lloyd Karmeier. Overstreet will square off in November against another appellate court justice, Judy Cates, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Illinois’ only open congressional seat — with the upcoming retirement of Republican Rep. John Shimkus — will match up Republican cattle farmer Mary Miller of Oakland and Erika Weaver, a Mattoon Democrat who is an attorney.
There was a crowded field with eight candidates — four from each party — in the Republican-leaning territory that follows a stretch of the border with Indiana.
Miller, who is married to state Rep. Chris Miller, beat Vermilion County Treasurer Darren Duncan, Camargo doctor Chuck Ellington and Kerry Wolff, an Altamont School Board leader.
Weaver took the top spot, beating Kevin Gaither, a tutoring business owner from Charleston who took 29 percent of the vote against Shimkus in 2018. Others in the race were Salem pharmacist Craig Morton and Collinsville High School teacher John Hursey.
Longtime Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski was ousted by small-business owner Marie Newman of La Grange, in one of Tuesday’s most closely watched races. It was Newman’s second attempt for the seat, which covers Chicago neighborhoods and southwest suburbs.
Lipinski’s challengers focused on the eight-term Western Springs Democrat’s conservative views, including on abortion.
On the Republican side, Will County board member Mike Fricilone won the nomination, beating real estate agent Catherine O’Shea of Oak Lawn, and Arthur Jones, a Holocaust denier who won the party nomination two years ago. The Illinois Republican Party had worked against him in the district that covers Chicago neighborhoods and southwest suburbs.