Illinois presidential primary filing period ends
Walsh not among Trump foes; Dem slates show split
The filing period for Illinois’ St. Patrick’s Day presidential primary ended Friday with President Donald Trump facing only a potential challenge from two little known candidates on the Republican ballot while more than a dozen challengers lined up to seek their party’s nomination on the Democratic ballot.
The close of the two-day filing period also proved an embarrassment to the declared candidacy of Trump critic and former Republican congressman Joe Walsh, of Barrington. By not filing in his home state, Walsh raised further doubts about the viability of his challenge to Trump and added fuel to questions of whether the former radio talk show host’s run was largely a vanity effort.
It’s unlikely all 13 Democrats who filed for president will be contending when Illinois voters go to the polls on March 17. By then, earlier caucus and primary states will have decided more than half of the delegates to the party’s national nominating convention in Milwaukee in mid-July.
Additionally, only Sens. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, filed full slates of 101 delegate candidates across the state’s 18 congressional delegations. Former Vice President Joe Biden fell just shy of a full slate, while businessman Andrew Yang, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar filed only partial slates.
No delegate candidates were filed by businessmen Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, of Hawaii, and Sens. Cory Booker, of New Jersey, and Michael Bennet, of Colorado.
Under the state’s complicated Democratic Party rules, even candidates who don’t file delegate slates can be awarded delegates if they secure enough of the primary’s popular vote within a congressional district. But those who filed delegate slates, even partial ones, are viewed as having a significant advantage in organizational strength as the national campaign goes into full swing with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.
Looking at the delegate candidates, the filings show a split among Democrats between the party’s establishment wing, represented most notably by Biden, and its progressive wing, led by the candidacies of Sanders and Warren. It also shows the increased involvement of women and a continued, growing youth movement in Illinois politics.
Sanders’ organizational strength was apparent when he was the only contender to file a full slate of delegates on the first day of the two-day filing period. In Illinois’ 2016 primary, Sanders lost to Hillary Clinton by a scant 2 percentage points. The result meant he and Clinton almost evenly split the state’s delegate count.
Among Sanders’ delegate candidates are Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya, state Sen. Robert Peters, of Chicago, and state Rep. Carol Ammons, of Urbana.
Warren’s delegate slate includes state Treasurer Michael Frerichs, state Sen. Omar Aquino and state Rep. Will Guzzardi, of Chicago, as well as state Sen. Cristina Castro, state Rep. Anna Moeller, of Elgin, and Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi, of Oak Park.
Biden’s establishmentoriented delegate candidates include former Gov. Pat Quinn, state Reps. Bob Rita, of Blue Island, Chris Welch, of Hillside, and Jay Hoffman, of Swansea, and Chicago Ald. Rod Sawyer, 6th; Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd; Ald. Pat Dowell, 3rd; and Ald. Emma Mitts, 37th.
On the Republican side, filing against Trump was perennial candidate Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, of
San Diego. But De La Fuente did not file any delegate candidates, making his ballot appearance virtually meaningless toward winning the nomination.
Also filing for a spot on the Republican ballot was John Schiess, of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, who also filed no delegate candidates.
State Republican rules put the emphasis on presidential contenders filing delegate candidates. Unlike the Democratic rules, where delegates are apportioned by the strength of the candidates’ showing in each congressional district, the
Republican votes for president are known as purely a “beauty contest” with voters directly electing convention delegates.
Walsh, a one-term “tea party” congressman from 2011 to ’13, announced his candidacy to challenge Trump in August. He has appeared regularly on national political shows to criticize the president, whom he endorsed in 2016.
Walsh aides have said he was concentrating on early caucus and primary states, such as Iowa and New Hampshire. But the inability to field a delegate candidacy on his home turf, where he is most well known, would appear to be a serious impediment for him moving forward.
Trump fell one delegate shy of a complete slate of 54 delegates — three for each congressional district. In addition to U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, of Peoria, Trump delegates include Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar, state Sen. Chapin Rose, of Mahomet, state Rep. John Cabello, of Machesney Park, who was co-chair of Trump’s 2016 effort in Illinois, and Lake County GOP Chairman Mark Shaw, of Lake Forest, who also is a state GOP co-chair.
Republican candidate Joe Walsh, of Barrington, did not file for Illinois’ March presidential primary. That raises doubts about the viability of his challenge to President Donald Trump.