(MCT) — Illinois' 2014 political season formally starts Monday as politicians begin submitting paperwork to get a spot on the March 18 primary ballot.
Candidates for U.S. Senate, Congress, governor and the General Assembly will launch the filing ritual by lining up outside the doors of the State Board of Elections for its 8 a.m. opening to try to secure the top spot on the ballot. Filing for office ends a week later on Dec. 2.
As has been the case during the early stages of the campaign, much of the attention will center on candidates seeking spots on the Republican primary ballot. Republicans are expected to feature contested races for governor, the U.S. Senate, state treasurer and some congressional seats.
Democrats, the majority party in the state, will feature a slate of current officeholders seeking re-election, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Gov. Pat Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White. Democrats believe they've averted major primary contests for all statewide offices, including treasurer and comptroller, which are now held by Republicans.
The four-way GOP race for governor has been dominated by a discussion of dollars — notably wealthy Winnetka equity investor Bruce Rauner's decision this month to pump another $500,000 of his own money into his candidacy. That move busted the state's limit on the size of donations and allows all candidates for governor, including Quinn, to accept unlimited contributions.
The money has flowed in to Rauner since he broke the threshold Nov. 12. He's collected $891,845 from donors, including donations of $250,000 each from fellow money managers Ken Griffin and Glen Tullman, campaign reports show.
Rauner, who has spent heavily on the race, began October with almost $600,000 in his campaign bank account and has since added $1.6 million in large donations.
State Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa had the most campaign money in the bank when October began at $1.2 million. Since then, the first-term statewide officeholder has raised slightly less than $50,000 in large donations, campaign reports show.
State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale had just over $205,000 in two campaign accounts to start October and has reported raising $74,231 in large donations since then.
State Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, making a third bid for governor, reported raising only $32,300 in large donations since Oct. 1. The two political funds he controlled had more than $273,000 at the end of September, campaign reports showed.
On the Democratic side, Quinn, who has no major opposition en route to renomination, reported nearly $3 million in his campaign bank account at the end of September.
Besides the race for governor, Republicans also expect a primary contest for the right to challenge Durbin's bid for a fourth term. State Sen. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove, who has been a controversial candidate in previous losing bids for statewide office, is expected to file for U.S. Senate, as is political newcomer Doug Truax, a Downers Grove business executive.
Primary contests also are expected among Republicans trying to win suburban congressional seats gained by Democrats in 2012, including challenges to Reps. Bill Foster of Naperville and Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates.
(c)2013 the Chicago Tribune Distributed by MCT Information Services