President Donald Trump is a big player in Tuesday’s Illinois primary with Trump-fueled voting expected to boost 2018 turnout compared to 2010 and 2014, the most recent nonpresidential years.
Who does that help the most?
On the GOP side, it’s pro-Trump governor candidate Jeanne Ives, taking on Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has been running from Trump.
As for Democrats, the Trump factor benefits most the contenders who are able to seize the support of angry, newly energized voters. In the bigger primary races, that would include governor hopeful state Sen. Daniel Biss; House contender Marie Newman and Cook County Assessor challenger Fritz Kaegi.
Here’s what I’ve learned about the Illinois Trump factors based on interviews with strategists, and my analysis of TV ads, direct mail and other political communications:
• Democrats furious over Trump’s 2016 victory, who usually don’t vote in nonpresidential years, are in this time. Those voters — younger, people of color and women — are likely more progressive, strategists tell me.
• Far fewer Republicans vote in Illinois primaries, so a candidate with a committed, animated base — that would be Ives — has an advantage.
Rauner is wobbly on Trump. He’s loath to associate with Trump for fear of alienating Democratic and crossover GOP voters he will need in November. That is, should he be renominated since pro-Trump Ives, a state representative from Wheaton, has mustered a strong challenge from the right.
The Democratic Governor’s Association is trying to throw the primary to Ives because she will be easier to beat in November. The DGA is running an ad praising her for being in “lockstep” with Trump — a pitch, wicked as it is from Democrats, to appeal to Trump primary voters turned off by Rauner.
• Of all the reasons challenger Marie Newman has mustered to defeat Rep. Dan Lipinski in their Democratic primary contest, calling him a “Trump Democrat” is potent political shorthand for turning out her vote.
• In pro-Lipinski direct mail pieces secretly financed by a donor or donors hiding under the name Americans Committed for Progress — it’s a phony organization — Lipinski is portrayed as anti-Trump, even though he hasn’t carved out a niche as standing up to an anti-Trump agenda Democrat.
Lipinski’s own direct mail pieces sets him up as “fighting” Trump health care cuts. That’s to gloss and try to mitigate Lipinski’s opposition to the creation of Obamacare.
• It’s almost a given in this Illinois Democratic primary. Strategists tell me hitting Trump tests well. That’s why so many Illinois Democrats are using Trump.
Some examples . . .
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle touts in a TV spot that the county has provided health care despite Trump.
Democratic hopeful J.B. Pritzker, who has been running ads for more than 40 weeks, in an early spot kept a shot of Chicago’s Trump Tower in the background — to underscore his anti-Trump agenda.
Another Democratic governor candidate, Biss, has spots comparing Pritzker and another rival, Chris Kennedy, to Trump and Rauner.
In reaction to Trump’s move to take away legal protections to Dreamers — youths in the U.S. illegally through no fault of their own, Kennedy said in a statement, “Since the beginning of his campaign, and throughout his presidency, Trump’s rhetoric and policies continue to disavow everything we stand for as Americans.”
Former Gov. Pat Quinn, defeated by Rauner in 2014 and now running for Attorney General, says in a spot, “you know me. . . . Now its time to take on Donald Trump.”
A direct mail piece for U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., says he is “helping” to “lead opposition to Donald Trump and Paul Ryan’s tax breaks for the wealthy.”
A TV spot for Attorney General contender Sharon Fairley features a picture of Trump with a voiceover saying she will “stand up” for immigrants, women and people of color.
State Sen. Ira Silverstein is fighting for political survival in the wake of sexual harassment allegations and is leaning on Trump to help.
His campaign has direct mail pieces using Trump. One piece featuring pictures of Trump and Rauner with the headline that Silverstein “stood up against the Trump/Rauner agenda.”
As one Democratic operative told me — I don’t want to steal the line — “Trump is like a little bit of catnip for Democratic voters.”