Campaign 2022 kicks off with ‘camaraderie,’ coffee and catcalls — as candidates line up to get on the ballot
It was the first day of the weeklong period for candidates to file their nominating petitions for federal, state and local offices on the June primary ballot. The Illinois State Board of Elections headquarters didn’t open until 8 a.m. But that didn’t stop candidates and staffers from gathering hours earlier despite snow and near freezing temperatures.
SPRINGFIELD — Winning a seat in the U.S. Senate is no easy task. When Republican Peggy Hubbard tried to oust Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin two years ago, she didn’t make it out of the primary.
But on Monday, Hubbard won a symbolic victory of sorts in her effort to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen Tammy Duckworth.
At just ten minutes before 7 a.m., Hubbard and her husband, Charlie, were already settled into chairs next to the front door of the Illinois State Board of Elections headquarters in Springfield, out of the icy wind of a March snowstorm.
It was the first day of the weeklong period for candidates to file their nominating petitions for federal, state and local offices on the June primary ballot.
And Hubbard was first in line.
The office wouldn’t open for more than an hour.
But that didn’t stop more than 100 candidates and staffers from lining up early, despite snow and near freezing temperatures.
The reason? A chance to have their names appear at the top of the ballot for their respective races — a spot that, according to Illinois political lore, gives candidates in crowded races an advantage, however slim.
Candidates don’t actually need to be at the head of the line. Any filers in place before 8 a.m. are eligible for a lottery to win that top spot in their races.
But on Monday, Hubbard won bragging rights, securing her place in line as the first person to actually file candidate petitions for the June 28 primary election.
The retired IRS analyst from downstate Belleville said members of her campaign team had staked out her spot on Friday.
“They told me as soon as they got here. They said, ‘Peggy, we’re first. We’re first,’” Hubbard said Monday, after she had taken over the seat.
“It’s been great. It’s been up and down. It’s been fun. It’s been camaraderie.”
Don’t count on those good feelings lasting long.
The barbs were already flying Monday amongst the candidates filing for legislative, congressional, judicial and statewide offices.
State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, used the occasion to file about 18,300 petition signatures in his race for governor — and to fire another shot in his ongoing verbal battle against primary opponent Richard Irvin.
“I think he’s probably filing as a Republican. He probably should file as a Democrat. I think people are aware of that already,” Bailey said of the Aurora mayor.
“I’m feeling great,” Bailey said, just before joining his staff in line. “The grassroots movement in Illinois is alive and well, and we’re ready to outperform the money which we’ve been doing since Day One and to take back Illinois.”
Appearing minutes before the doors opened for filing, Irvin and his running mate, state Rep. Avery Bourne, focused on the race ahead.
“We’re excited about filing our petitions today,” Irvin said. “We’re looking forward to just going throughout central and southern Illinois and taking the state back.”
Typically, it’s not the candidates themselves who camp out on the sidewalk overnight. Generally, campaign staffers or volunteers hold their spots in line.
One of those placeholders standing near the front of the line Monday was Joey Strattman, a staffer with the GOP gubernatorial campaign of millionaire businessman Gary Rabine.
“I thought it was going to be much bigger and crazier. I was really kind of glad that everyone was kind of mellow,” said Strattman, who said he had been standing in line since 4 a.m. Monday.
To stay warm, Strattman said he’d been “drinking coffee like air.”
“I have been thinking warm thoughts. And I have been singing summer songs like ‘Walking on Sunshine,’” he said.
Former state Sen. Paul Schimpf of Waterloo, who is also running for governor, was also in line to file his petitions Monday morning. The only Republican in the crowded primary for governor who was a no-show was venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, who only began circulating petitions in early February after tapping Kathleen Murphy as his running mate.
Bailey, Irvin and some of the others running for top offices didn’t personally join their staffers in line until about 20 minutes before the doors opened.
The Democrat the Republicans are all vying to run against showed up a little more than ten minutes before the doors opened.
In remarks before joining the line with Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Gov. J.B. Pritzker touted Democrats’ accomplishments over the past four years.
“We’re sick and tired of Republicans trying to take away the benefits that working families get from having Democratic leadership,” the governor said. “We’re the party that stands up not only for voting rights and women’s rights, but also for making sure that people earn good wages, that we can create jobs for everybody in the state of Illinois.”
Not every candidate had staffers holding their place in line.
Regan Deering, a Republican running for the 13th Congressional District seat, joined the line with just minutes to spare, making her the last person eligible for the ballot placement lottery.
Her first time running for office, Deering said she was excited for the opportunity to run.
“It’s a pretty wide district, a good variety of people, but I think we’re coming together around things that are issues that need to be reflected in Washington,” she said.
The first day’s filings offered no real surprises.
In addition to Duckworth and Hubbard, Lake Forest businessman Casey Chlebek filed for U.S. Senate. Like Hubbard, he also challenged Durbin two years ago, finishing fifth in the six-candidate GOP primary.
In the race for Illinois attorney general, Democratic incumbent Kwame Raoul filed for reelection, along with GOP challengers Steve Kim of Deerfield and David Shestokas of Orland Park.Tom DeVore, a downstate lawyer who has filed legal challenges to Pritzker’s COVID-19 mitigation measures, has said he was running for the office, but did not file on Monday.
Five candidates filed to succeed retiring Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.Three Chicago Democrats made their campaigns official, former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, City Clerk Anna Valencia and Ald. David Moore (17th). Two Republicans also filed, state Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington and former Central Illinois U.S. Attorney John Milhiser of Springfield.
For state comptroller, Chicago Democratic incumbent Susana Mendoza filed for another term, and Republican Teresi Shannon of Crystal Lake filed to try to unseat her.
Democratic state Treasurer Michael Frerichs of Champaign filed for reelection, and Illinois House Deputy Republican Leader Tom Demmer of Dixon filed on the GOP side.
The filing period closes next Monday. Some candidates file on that day in an effort to be the last name on the ballot for their race, another spot believed to give a slight advantage.But most candidates who wait are still busy gathering the required signatures.