The coronavirus pandemic will limit in-person voter participation in the two states holding down-ballot elections Tuesday.
Illinois and Ohio election officials last week encouraged voters to cast ballots by mail. Both states also are holding presidential primaries, as are a couple of other states.
Headlining the congressional races is whether one of the few anti-abortion Democrats in Congress can survive a rematch against the more liberal challenger who almost unseated him in 2018. Eight-term Rep. Dan Lipinski , a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats who emphasize fiscal restraint, is opposed by Marie Newman, who lost 51%-49% to Lipinski two years ago, in the Chicago-area 3rd District.
Here’s a look at all the races to watch:
Illinois (Clinton 56%-39%)
Senate: Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, is unopposed in the primary and will be heavily favored in strongly Democratic Illinois to defeat the winner of a five-candidate Republican primary.
3rd District (parts of Chicago and suburbs; Clinton 55%-40%): While Lipinski and Newman disagree on abortion, health care has emerged as a bigger issue during the campaign. Lipinski has criticized Newman’s support for a “Medicare for All” government-run health-care system as unworkable. A Lipinski ad said he’s working to lower prescription drug prices while Newman “backs an extreme plan to eliminate private health insurance.”
Newman’s backers include Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and EMILY’s List, which aids Democratic women who support abortion rights. Newman’s TV ads have noted Lipinski’s vote against the Affordable Care Act.
Unlike the 2018 primary, which was a 1-on-1 race, this year’s primary is a four-candidate contest that includes Rush Darwish, a Palestinian-American businessman who’s had success in fundraising. Darwish has accused Newman of adopting progressive positions on health care to further her political ambitions. An anti-Lipinski vote spread out over multiple candidates could help the incumbent win again, perhaps with a plurality of the vote.
In the 2018 primary, 51% of the 3rd District primary vote came out of suburban Cook County, where Newman won narrowly, and 42% came from Chicago, where Lipinski won more decisively. The rest of the vote comes from suburban DuPage and Will Counties.
6th District (Chicago suburbs; Clinton 50%-43%): Republicans Jeanne Ives and Jay Kinzler are seeking to oppose Rep. Sean Casten (D), who unseated Peter Roskam (R) in 2018 in a district that’s been drifting away from the Republicans. Ives, a former state legislator and Army veteran who challenged the incumbent Republican governor in the 2018 primary, has raised more than five times as much in campaign funds as Kinzler and is backed by some Republican members of the Illinois congressional delegation.
13th District (Champaign, Decatur, most of Springfield; Trump 50%-44%): Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, a businesswoman and former congressional aide, should advance to a rematch with four-term Rep. Rodney Davis (R), the ranking member of the Committee on House Administration. Davis won their 2018 contest by less than 1 percentage point.
14th District (Chicago suburbs; Trump 49%-45%): Seven Republicans are vying to oppose first-term Rep. Lauren Underwood (D), who unseated Republican Randy Hultgren in 2018.
They include Jim Oberweis, a state senator and wealthy dairy executive who’s waged previous unsuccessful bids for federal office. Illinois Conservative PAC, a super political action committee that formed in early March, aired ads attacking Oberweis’ conservative credentials. The super PAC hasn’t yet disclosed its donors.
State Sen. Sue Rezin’s supporters include Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.); Value in Electing Women PAC, which advocates for more Republican women in Congress; and the Republican Main Street Partnership PAC, which says it represents the “governing wing” of the Republican Party.
Ted Gradel, a businessman who was a college football kicker at Notre Dame, aired a TV ad that showed him kicking footballs as he advocated for term limits and tax cuts.
Underwood, who has a background in health care, has been a high-profile advocate of protecting and strengthening the ACA.
15th District (Danville, Charleston, Mattoon; Trump 71%-25%): The winner of a four-candidate Republican primary will be a shoo-in in November to succeed retiring Rep. John Shimkus (R). The top candidates probably are Mary Miller, a farmer and educator, and Darren Duncan, the treasurer of Vermilion County in Danville.
Miller is the preferred candidate of the House Freedom Fund, which is the political arm of the strongly conservative House Freedom Caucus, and of Reps. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), who are helping lead the Republican Party’s efforts to elect more women to Congress. In one TV ad, Miller said she was running in part to “put an end to godless socialism.” Duncan’s platform includes opposition to abortion and gun control and support for Trump’s border wall.
Ohio (Trump 52%-44%)
1st District (part of Cincinnati; Trump 51%-45%): Kate Schroder, a former vice president for the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and Nikki Foster, a former Air Force combat pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan, are seeking the Democratic nomination to oppose Rep. Steve Chabot (R) in a mildly Republican-leaning district in southwestern Ohio. Schroder is better-funded. Chabot is the top Republican on the Small Business Committee.
3rd District (most of Columbus; Clinton 67%-29%): Rep. Joyce Beatty (D), the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee, is opposed in the primary by Morgan Harper, a lawyer who formerly worked for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Harper’s backers include Justice Democrats, a liberal activist group.
“We can continue down the path of the status quo, dominated by corporate interests that are willing to let our lives and our communities suffer. Or we can organize together and fight back,” Harper said at a candidate forum in February.
Beatty’s ads have highlighted her opposition to Trump and her work on health care and prescription-drug pricing and haven’t mentioned Harper.
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org