Under the wire: Last-minute campaign filers now in a race for nominations — and ballot position

Monday was the final day of the weeklong period for candidates for federal, state and local offices to file their paperwork to win a spot on the June 28 primary ballot.

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Republican Jesse Sullivan and running mate, Kathleen Murphy, talk to reporters before filing their petitions to run for governor and lieutenant governor on March 14.

Republican Jesse Sullivan and running mate, Kathleen Murphy, talk to reporters before filing their petitions to run for governor and lieutenant governor on Monday.

Taylor Avery/Chicago Sun-Times file

SPRINGFIELD — Whether he likes it or not, Republican Jesse Sullivan is now in a contest for last place — on the June primary ballot, that is.

The downstate venture capitalist filed his nominating petitions to run for governor just as the state elections board’s offices were closing Monday, a last-minute move that typically would have won him the final spot on the GOP primary ballot — considered an electoral advantage of sorts to some.

But because two other Republicans filed for the race at the same time, all three will now compete in a lottery to see which snares the bottom spot on the GOP gubernatorial primary ballot.

Monday was the final day of the weeklong period for candidates for federal, state and local offices to file their paperwork to win a spot on the June 28 primary ballot.

The other big name Republican gubernatorial candidates in the crowded primary race filed last week on the first day of filing.

Republican Jesse Sullivan and running mate, Kathleen Murphy, prepare to file their petitions to run for governor and lieutenant governor on Monday.

Republican Jesse Sullivan and running mate, Kathleen Murphy, prepare to file their petitions to run for governor and lieutenant governor on Monday.

Taylor Avery/Chicago Sun-Times

Most had staff standing in line outside of the Illinois State Board of Elections before the doors opened at 8 a.m. last Monday, entering them in a lottery for their name to appear at the top of the ballot, a spot that many believe gives candidates in crowded races an advantage, however slim.

Similarly, political insiders consider the last spot the next best option.

Sullivan, who was joined by his running mate, Kathleen Murphy, said the move to file on the last day was “strategic.”

“We had more than enough signatures at the beginning of this whole week,” the Petersburg resident told reporters outside the board’s headquarters, apparently meaning the beginning of the filing period.

“We decided that for strategic purposes, we wanted to hold off,” Sullivan said before entering the building. “We kept collecting signatures all the way to the end.”

Sullivan said his campaign had collected over 10,000 signatures, more than three times of what’s required by law to qualify for the ballot.

It’s not the first time the venture capitalist from central Illinois has made a last-minute move. Sullivan became the final announced GOP candidate for governor to name a running mate when Murphy joined the ticket at the beginning of February.

Republican Jesse Sullivan and running mate, Kathleen Murphy, file their petitions to run for governor and lieutenant governor on Monday.

Republican Jesse Sullivan and running mate, Kathleen Murphy, file their petitions to run for governor and lieutenant governor on Monday.

Taylor Avery/Chicago Sun-Times

That delayed his ability to gather signatures for his petitions, since primary voters nominate governor and lieutenant governor on a single ticket. That means candidates for governor can’t start circulating nominating petitions until they’ve determined a running mate.As a result, the Sullivan campaign began collecting signatures more than three weeks later than the other Republican tickets that had already chosen running mates.

The other Republican gubernatorial candidates in the lottery with Sullivan are Hazel Crest lawyer Max Solomon, running with Latasha Fields as his lieutenant governor candidate, and Country Club Hills entrepreneur Keisha Smith, who filed with no running mate.

The three Monday filers bring the field in the Republican gubernatorial primary to eight.

Suburban businessman Gary Rabine, left, last year; State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, center; former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, right.

Suburban businessman Gary Rabine, left, last year; State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, center; former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, right.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file; Facebook

They join state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia; Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, millionaire businessman Gary Rabine and former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, who all filed for the GOP primary a week ago on the first day.

The lotteries for first and last place on the ballot are scheduled for March 23.

Wheaton Republican Emily Johnson filed her petitions to seek the nomination last Wednesday.

They are all vying to challenge Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who faces a primary challenge from West Sider Beverly Miles.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin in 2019.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin in 2019.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file photo

The crowded field could narrow as a result of petition challenges.

Another last-minute filer on Monday was Tom DeVore, a southern Illinois lawyer known for a string of lawsuits against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 mitigation measures. The Sorento resident filed petitions to run for attorney general in the Republican primary.

DeVore announced he was running for the position just three weeks ago. He is competing against fellow Republicans Steve Kim of Deerfield and David Shestokas of Orland Park.

The three are vying to challenge Democratic incumbent Kwame Raoul in November.

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