Illinois primary Tuesday: The latest on outside money flooding into congressional primary races

Who will survive in Illinois incumbent contests? On the Democratic side, it’s Sean Casten vs Mary Newman; and for Republicans, it’s Mary Miller vs Rodney Davis.

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Campaign signs outside the Highland Park, Illinois, library.

Campaign signs outside the Highland Park, Illinois, library.

Lynn Sweet/Sun-Times

Outside money surged in the last days of the Illinois congressional primaries with two things for certain: in the Tuesday vote, two incumbent members of the Illinois congressional delegation — one Democrat and one Republican — will be defeated.

After Tuesday, in the one Democrat vs Democrat incumbent primary in Illinois — either Marie Newman or Sean Casten will not be sworn into a new term in Congress next January; same holds for the one Republican on Republican primary in the state — after Tuesday, either Mary Miller and Rodney Davis will be denied another term.

BIG LAST MINUTE OUTSIDE SPENDING IN CD 1 FOR KARIN NORINGTON-REAVES

In the 1st Congressional District — the crowded Democratic primary to replace retiring Rep. Bobby Rush — a surprise last minute surge of outside money — $823,122, according to Federal Election Commission reports — was spent to elect Karin Norington-Reaves, who is backed by Rush. Last week, I reported how crypto currency interests put in a combined $1,092,561 to bolster Jonathan Jackson.

Most of the independent expenditures for Norington-Reaves — some $758,000 of the total — comes from a shadowy political action committee called Forward Progress, whose donors and organizers are not known. The rest of the outside spend for Norington-Reaves, $65,122, came from the Collective Super Pac, whose goal is, according to its website, “to create an America where Black people are equally represented at every level of government.”

NEWMAN-CASTEN SHOWDOWN AND HOW ISRAEL IS A FACTOR IN CD 6

In the 6th Congressional District Democratic primary, pitting two incumbents against each other, Tuesday will mark the end of a congressional career for either freshman Marie Newman or Sean Casten, seeking his third term.

Outside spending played a role in this primary. The Democratic Majority for Israel political action committee as of Monday spent $504,266 to defeat Newman and $37,492 to support Casten, according to FEC records.

Why is DMFI involved in this primary? Last September, the House voted 420-9 to approve $1 billion to bolster Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system with one Republican and eight Democrats voting no — among them Newman and Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill.That was the final straw for the pro-Israel DMFI.

The DMFI ads and direct mail against Newman do not mention Israel.

Rather, the negative hits focus on the House Ethics Committee probe hanging over her with the central issue of whether she improperly induced Iymen Hamman Chehade to not run against her in 2020 in exchange for a contract she signed on Dec. 26, 2018, promising him a House job if she won election. Chehade is running in the 3rd Congressional District primary, and after his lawsuit against Newman was settled last year — the details kept sealed — he popped up on Newman’s campaign payroll as a part-time foreign policy adviser.

That September Iron Dome stand alone bill was blocked in the Senate. The $1 billion was tucked into another measure and voted on again on March 9. This time, Newman — already locked in a race against Casten — was one of three House members not voting on the bill.

Other outside money includes $49,000 from a group associated with Casten, the New Democratic Coalition Action Fund; also helping Casten, $25,000 from the Natural Resources Defense Council PAC and $25,092 from the League of Conservation Voters.

JUSTICE DEMOCRATS, ALLIED GROUPS SPEND $422,000 TO BOLSTER KINA COLLINS IN HER CD 7 BATTLE AGAINST DANNY DAVIS

As of Monday according to FEC records, Justice Democrats reported spending $390,000 to support gun rights activist Kina Collins, trying for the second time to unseat Rep. Danny Davis. Justice Democrats is closely associated with “The Squad” — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. The Peoples Lobby spent $30,000 to bolster Collins and Indivisible Action, $2,000 for her.

The so-far secretive new Opportunity for All Action Fund, which has not disclosed any information about its organizers, spent $425,000 for ads to boost Davis. The group also spent money to bolster other House incumbents.

UIHLEIN AND GRIFFIN FACTORS IN CD 15, MARY MILLER VS RODNEY DAVIS

GOP mega donors from Illinois — Ken Griffin and Richard Uihlein — both players in the GOP governor primary — Griffin for Richard Irvin and Uihlein backing Darren Bailey — are also factors in the $12 million in outside expenditures spent in the Miller and Davis primary, where the independent expenditures are about evenly split.

Griffin is the sole donor to the Illinois Value PAC — and his $1. 5 million contribution was used mainly on ads to oppose Miller. Uihlein donated $3 million to the Club for Growth Action fund between April and May; the group spent $2.5 million to help elect Miller.

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