A look at key Illinois primary races for US House and Senate

Former gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives, who is seeking the Republican nomination in the 6th Congressional District, meets with Northwest Herald editorial staff Thursday in Crystal Lake.
Former gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives, who is seeking the Republican nomination in the 6th Congressional District, meets with Northwest Herald editorial staff Thursday in Crystal Lake.

CHICAGO — Voters across Illinois get the chance Tuesday to decide competitive U.S. House and Senate primaries in nearly every part of the state.

Here's a look at some of the key races:


In the only statewide race on the ballot, five Republicans are vying for the chance to unseat Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate. Any candidate will face a near-impossible November contest against Durbin, who has easily won each contest since he was first elected in 1996 and has $4.5 million cash on hand.

The most well-known Republican is Mark Curran, a former Lake County sheriff who was previously a Democrat but switched parties in 2008. The Libertyville man leads in endorsements.

The others are Tom Tarter, a retired Springfield oncologist, Casey Chlebek, a Poland native who works in real estate, and perennial candidate Robert Marshall, a Burr Ridge doctor who's also run as a Democrat for governor. Also in the race is Peggy Hubbard of Belleville, a retired Navy veteran and a former police officer who prompted a police investigation when she claimed she brought a gun to a candidate forum at a school to illustrate safety lapses. She later said she misspoke.


The race for the suburban Chicago seat held by U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski is being closely watched nationwide. First elected in 2004, the Western Springs Democrat with conservative views on abortion is considered vulnerable.

Marie Newman of La Grange, a small business owner, is making a second attempt to unseat him. She's the most recognized Democratic challenger with a slew of endorsements from unions and elected officials. The others are first-time candidates Rush Darwish, a Palos Hills man who runs a media production company, and Chicago resident Charles Hughes, an operation mechanic for Nicor Gas.

On the Republican ballot are Oak Lawn real estate agent Catherine O'Shea, Will County board member Mike Fricilone, and Arthur Jones, an anti-Semitic. Jones, of Lyons won the GOP nomination two years ago, but the Illinois Republican Party has been actively working against him in the district that includes Chicago neighborhoods and southwest suburbs.


Two Republicans are vying for a shot at ousting first-term Democrat Rep. Sean Casten in November. In 2018, the Downers Grove man defeated six-term Republican Rep. Peter Roskam as part of a Democratic wave. The district represents a conservative slice of northeastern Illinois.

The Republican with the most name recognition is Jeanne Ives of Wheaton. A graduate of West Point, the former state representative and Army veteran unsuccessfully ran for Illinois governor in 2018. The other is Jay Kinzler, a Glen Ellyn transplant surgeon and colonel in the Army reserves.

Both have similar views, including opposing abortion rights and on curbing illegal immigration. But Kinzler calls Ives a career politician and has questioned her use of controversial television ads on transgender rights in the 2018 primary that both parties objected to. Ives says her tone is different in this campaign and she has a record of fighting for issues, even if it means standing up to her party.


It's a crowded Republican primary with seven Republicans running in an attempt to unseat Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood, who flipped the longtime GOP seat in 2018. The Naperville nurse who worked in former President Barack Obama's administration, defeated Rep. Randy Hultgren, a Republican elected in 2010.

The most well-known are state Sen. Jim Oberweis, the dairy magnate who has run for governor and U.S. Senate before, and state Sen. Sue Rezin, a state lawmaker since 2010.

The other candidates are Warrenville small business owner Jerry Evans, Naperville coach Ted Gradel, Oswego software consultant Jim Marter, Anthony Catella of St. Charles, a former Catholic priest turned store clerk, and Catalina Lauf, a 26-year-old business developer who served as a Trump administration U.S. Commerce Department adviser.

The district includes suburbs to Chicago's north and west, along with rural areas.


The retirement announcement of Republican U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, first elected to Congress in 1996, set off a candidate scramble in this sprawling district covering much of southeastern Illinois.

Eight candidates — four from each party — are running in Illinois's only open congressional primary. The Republican-leaning territory runs along a stretch of the Indiana border.

The four GOP candidates are Camargo doctor Chuck Ellington, Rossville farmer Darren Duncan, Mary Miller of Oakland who runs a farm, and Kerry Wolff, an Altamont School Board leader. While none has district-wide name recognition, Miller is married to state Rep. Chris Miller, and Duncan is Vermilion County Treasurer.

For the Democrats, Kevin Gaither, who runs a tutoring business, is again seeking the party's nomination. The Charleston man won 29% of the vote against Shimkus in 2018. The others are Collinsville High School teacher John Hursey, Mattoon attorney Erika Weaver, and Craig Morton, a Salem pharmacist.


Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiatareen.

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