Darren Bailey and Jesse Sullivan win the lottery! (For sought-after spots on GOP primary ballot)

But does ballot position matter? Some experts say no. “It’s tradition. It’s part of the summer camp aspect of campaigning,” said political science professor Christopher Mooney. “But does it have an impact on average? No, it doesn’t. But again, in an individual case, who’s to say?”

SHARE Darren Bailey and Jesse Sullivan win the lottery! (For sought-after spots on GOP primary ballot)
State Sen. Darren Bailey; Venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan

State Sen. Darren Bailey, left, at a campaign event in Palatine earlier this month; Venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, right, campaigns in Chicago in October.

Blue Room Stream; Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times file

SPRINGFIELD — In a crowded race, candidates vie for any advantage they hope will mean the difference on Election Day — such as being listed first on the ballot.

Whether that coveted position will turn the tide for Darren Bailey remains to be seen, but the state senator from southern Illinois was celebrating Wednesday after he won the lottery for the top spot on the June primary ballot for governor.

“GOOD NEWS: we’re first on the Republican Primary ballot to fire JB Pritzker,” the Xenia Republican shared on Facebook and Twitter following the lottery.

“Working families and taxpayers need a governor who fights for them, and that’s what our movement has been about since day one. Onward to victory!!!”

State Sen. Darren Bailey speaks at a news conference in Palatine earlier this month.

State Sen. Darren Bailey speaks at a news conference in Palatine earlier this month.

Blue Room Stream

Candidates for federal, state and local offices who filed their nominating petitions before 8 a.m. on March 7 — the first day of the weeklong filing period to run in the June 28 primary — were all entered in a lottery for the top spot on the ballot in their races.

Many consider it an electoral advantage. The idea is that some harried voters just pick the first name they come to in a long list of candidates.

But does ballot position matter?

Some experts say no.

Current scientific evidence indicates that where a name places on the ballot doesn’t make much of a difference, said Christopher Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“It’s tradition. It’s part of the summer camp aspect of campaigning,” Mooney said. “But does it have an impact on average? No, it doesn’t. But again, in an individual case, who’s to say? We don’t know.”

Given that uncertainty, many opt not to take any chances.

More than 100 candidates for various races were waiting at 8 a.m. to file their nominating petitions on the first day of the period.

Candidates and their staff members line up March 7 outside the Illinois State Board of Elections headquarters in Springfield.

Candidates and their staff members line up March 7 outside the Illinois State Board of Elections headquarters in Springfield.

Taylor Avery/Chicago Sun-Times file

Three of Bailey’s GOP rivals were there right along with him.

Bull Valley businessman Gary Rabine even attended the lottery Wednesday at the State Board of Elections in Springfield — only to wind up with fourth place on the ballot.

“I think number four is fine. I don’t think it matters that much,” the millionaire said afterward.

“I really wasn’t disappointed, wasn’t excited. If I was one, two or three, it wouldn’t have made a difference either.”

Republican candidate for governor Gary Rabine, third from left, watches as an employee for the Illinois State Board of Elections draws the winners in the lottery for ballot order on Wednesday.

Republican candidate for governor Gary Rabine, third from left, watches as an employee for the Illinois State Board of Elections draws the winners in the lottery for ballot order on Wednesday.

Blue Room Stream

The No 2 spot went to former state Sen. Paul Schimpf of Waterloo, and No. 3 to Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.

Wheaton Republican Emily Johnson, who filed her petitions mid-way through the weeklong period, will appear fifth on the ballot.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, left, in 2019; Suburban businessman Gary Rabine, center, last year; Former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, right.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, left, in 2019; Suburban businessman Gary Rabine, center, last year; Former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, right.

Patrick Kunzer/Daily Herald-file; Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times-file; Facebook

But Bailey wasn’t the only Republican gubernatorial to win a coveted ballot spot. According to Illinois political lore, the next best position on the ballot is the last spot.

That went to venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan. The Petersburg resident submitted his nominating petitions with the State Board of Elections just as the office was closing on March 14 — the last day to file — placing him in a separate lottery with two other Republicans for the bottom slot.

When Sullivan filed his petitions with running mate Kathleen Murphy in the final minutes of the period, he said the move to enter the lottery for last place was “strategic.”

And his campaign downplayed the victory on Wednesday.

“Jesse and Kathleen are excited for the opportunity to represent all Illinoisans in the fight to lower taxes, end corruption, and reduce crime — no matter what spot we hold on the ballot,” a Sullivan campaign spokesperson said Wednesday.

Also vying for the last spot were Hazel Crest lawyer Max Solomon, running with lieutenant governor hopeful Latasha Fields, and Country Club Hills entrepreneur Keisha Smith, who filed without a running mate. Smith’s name will appear second to last on the ballot, and Solomon will appear third to last.

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 March 14.

Taylor Avery/Chicago Sun-Times file

Ultimately, the final ballot hinges on whether candidates can survive any challenges that might have been filed to their petitions.

Sullivan’s petitions are facing such an objection, as are the petitions of Smith, Solomon and Johnson.

In other contested GOP primary races, Deerfield lawyer Steve Kim won the top spot in the primary for his party’s nomination for attorney general, beating out Orland Park attorney David Shestokas. Southern Illinois lawyer Thomas G. DeVore, who filed on the final day, will take the last spot.

In the GOP primary for secretary of state, state Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington won the top ballot position over former U.S. Attorney John C. Milhiser. Former Chicago Police Officer Michelle Turney is slated for the last spot, although she also faces a petition challenge.

In the hotly contested Democratic primary for secretary of state, former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias beat out Chicago Ald. David H. Moore (17th) and Chicago City Clerk Anna M. Valencia for top ballot position. Homewoood resident Sidney Moore is slated for the last spot, pending a petition challenge.

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