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March 18, 2020

Illinois Primary Results: Rush Triumphs, Peters Narrowly Holds Seat

President (Democrat): Joe Biden

Former vice president Joe Biden won the Illinois Democratic presidential nomination with 59.1 percent to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s 36.1 percent, netting him 93 of the 155 delegates Illinois contributes to the nominating process. Biden’s decisive victory in Illinois further cements his frontrunner status and narrows Sanders’s path to the nomination.

U.S. House of Representatives, Third District (Democrat): Marie Newman

Progressive challenger Marie Newman wrested control of the third congressional district from eight-term incumbent Dan Lipinski with 47.1 percent of the vote to Lipinski’s 44.7 percent. The district spans southwestern Cook County, including parts of Chicago, as well as parts of DuPage and Will Counties. Lipinski has occupied the seat since 2005, when he took over the seat from his father, Bill Lipinski. Newman will run against Republican nominee Mike Fricilone for the seat in November, but the Democratic nominee has historically been heavily favored to win the seat.

The Newman-Lipinski matchup first played out in 2018, with the reverse result. The race has received national attention as a proxy battle between the Democratic party’s moderate and progressive wings. Lipinski is noted for his stance against abortion, as well as his opposition to Obamacare and same-sex marriage.

U.S. House of Representatives, First District (Democrat): Bobby Rush

Bobby Rush held his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, despite energetic challenges from UChicago law student Sarah Gad, activist Robert Emmons, and anti-violence advocate Ameena Matthews. Rush garnered 71.5 percent of the vote, while Gad, Emmons, and Matthews took 10.5, 10.0, and 8.0 percent of the vote, respectively. Rush, 73, has represented the First District since 1993. He has received criticism in the past for missing House votes at an above-average rate.

Gad, a third-year law student, focused her campaign around issues of criminal justice reform and mental health, often referencing her own story as a recovered opioid addict who had spent time in prison. Emmons made gun reform a central element of his candidacy and also heavily featured his personal narrative in campaigning—Emmons lost his best friend to gun violence while in college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Rush will run against Republican nominee Philanise White in November, but will almost certainly emerge the victor from that contest.

State Senate, 13th District: Robert Peters

Incumbent state senator Robert Peters narrowly held onto his seat, with 51.8 percent of the vote to challenger Ken Thomas’s 48.2 percent. This was Peters’s first election after being appointed to the seat in early 2019 to replace Kwame Raoul, who became Illinois’s attorney general. No Republican is running for the seat.

Peters, the inaugural chair of the State Senate’s Special Committee on Public Safety, ran on a record of criminal justice reforms. These include a bill he is sponsoring to end cash bail in the state.

Circuit Court Clerk (Democrat): Iris Martinez

Iris Martinez prevailed over her three opponents with 34.1 percent of the vote, against Michael Cabonargi’s 27.0 percent, Richard Boykin’s 25.3 percent, and Jacob Meister’s 13.7 percent. Martinez will face off against Barbara Bellar, the only Republican to run for the position.

Martinez, who has served as state senator for Illinois’s 20th district since 2003, was the first Latina woman to be elected to the Illinois State Senate. As state senator, she helped pass legislation securing women’s access to contraceptive coverage. While running for circuit court clerk, Martinez has pledged to end the mismanagement of the office by firing at-will employees in top administrative roles.

State’s Attorney (Democrat): Kim Foxx

Incumbent Kim Foxx retained a comfortable grasp on the office of State’s Attorney, with more than half of the vote. Foxx, who assumed office in 2016 after running on a platform of progressive reform, later received considerable attention for her handling of the irregular Jussie Smollett case: She dropped charges against Smollett for falsely reporting a hate crime, some speculating under the influence of contact with his family. Foxx has also pledged to meet with the family of former University of Chicago student Charles Thomas, who was shot by UCPD in 2018 while having a mental health crisis.

State’s Attorney (Republican): Pat O’Brien

Pat O’Brien trounced opponent Christopher Pfannkuche, with 73.0 percent to Pfannkuche’s 27.0 percent. O’Brien, a former assistant state’s attorney in the Felony Review Unit, was later elected as a judge to the Cook County Circuit Court in 2006, where he served for eight years. O’Brien has also represented private clients in court, including the Chicago Police Board. Pfannkuche had earned the Republican nomination in the 2016 State’s Attorney’s election, but lost to Foxx in the general election.

State Supreme Court, First Judicial District: P. Scott Neville

P. Scott Neville looks to have defended his seat on the bench from six challengers, garnering 27.4 percent of the vote. Among other endorsements, Neville had earned the backing of Congressman Bobby Rush (D–IL), as well as the Chicago Federation of Labor and the American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations.

While a sitting justice on the Illinois Supreme Court in March 2019, Neville was the only judge to fully disagree with the Court’s decision not to stiffen penalties against Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who fatally shot teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014. In late 2019, Neville’s reelection campaign suffered slightly when it was reported he was receiving tax exemptions for a home he owned but did not occupy. Neville was ordered to pay back four years of the exemption.

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