Quick Hits – Your 2020 primary recap!

Particularly because we’re all corona virused-out and we could certainly use a diversion, let’s talk about yesterday’s fascinating Kane County-centric primary races.

As predicted, Jim Oberweis is, indeed, the 14th Congressional District Republican nominee, but he certainly didn’t run away with it. Had State Senator Sue Rezin merely run a marginally better campaign (no newspaper mailers), she would’ve easily made up that one percent margin.

Did Jim’s campaign finance shenanigans hurt him? I’m sure they did.

But that money laundering scheme didn’t disappoint me nearly as much as Jim, once again, fervently believing that no one would rat him out in this regard. C’mon Jim! Haven’t you learned not everyone’s your friend by now?

Given his poor showing, Jim will lose to incumbent Lauren Underwood by double digits.

Election Roundup

Meanwhile, distant third place finisher Cataline Lauf spent more than a quarter of a million dollars to finish with just 20 percent, or 8,801 votes! The final campaign finance reports aren’t in yet, and considering her late mailer blitz, those expenditures could top $300,000. But if we use that more conservative dollar amount, it comes out to a patently pathetic $28.40 per vote!

Clearly, she could’ve saved a bunch of cash and done much better if she simply offered voters ten bucks a pop!

Lauf, who wouldn’t know the truth if it bit her in the ass, said, “I learned that people are ready for excitement and new faces on the Republican side.” No Catalina! You ran a terrible campaign, you performed so poorly in public that your handlers “socially distanced” you, and I wouldn’t count on that MENSA application coming back anytime soon.

Like it is with any candidate, I give you credit for making the effort to run, but if you choose to run again, and you really shouldn’t, you’ll never do better than 20 percent of the vote.

An erudite friend noted that, without Lauf in the race, Rezin would’ve won! So you can that Catalina for presenting us with Jim Oberweis one more time!

Moving on!

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Jeanne Ives mauled Jay Kinzler in the 6th Congressional with a whopping 70 percent of the vote, but she will lose to Sean Casten in November.

Meanwhile, Marie Newman beat Dan Lipinski by four points in the 4th, Raj Krishnamoorthi obliterated two opponents with an incredible 80 percent of the vote in the 8th, and Bill Foster beat Rachel Ventura by a healthy 17-point margin in the 11th.

Back to the more local races!

Matha Paschke destroyed perennial candidate Mo Iqball by two-to-one in the District 65 state rep race, Barabara Hernandez retained her 88th seat by a slightly larger margin, and Allen Skillicorn made mincemeat out of Carolyn Schofield in the 66th with 70 percent of the vote tally there.

In the State Senate, 22nd District incumbent Cristina Castro mopped the floor with opponent Rae Yawer, and in a bit of surprise, Jeannette Ward blew out perennial candidate Beth Goncher by 19 points in the 25th.

Per our previous conversations, Goncher is a terrible candidate with a poor campaign work ethic. How else could someone with her name recognition and late influx of cash lose to a generally unknown and underfunded radical conservative? I’m sure it won’t be the case, but let’s hope this is the last we’ll see of Goncher and her campaign manager who loses two-thirds of her races.

In the end, Ward will lose to Karina Villa, turning that district over to the Democrats for the first time in its history.

Conversely, because of her willingness to pound the pavement Jamie Mosser mauled Junaid “J.” Afeef by two-to-one, despite being outspent five-to-one.

My best guess is, Afeef commissioned a late poll and went bizarrely negative in the final week in an attempt to catch up. In my 24 years in Kane County, I’ve never seen such blatant mailer lies in a countywide race, which, once again, proves that negative campaigning does not work at the local level.

Mosser will beat Republican opponent Bob Spence in November.

But the biggest surprise of the night – and recent election day history – was Corrine Pierog’s utter destruction of Greg Ellsbree with a wholly unexpected 70 percent of the vote in the Dem county chairman race.

Pierog, to whom I’ve previously applied my favorite political appellation “loon,” never came close to beating Oberweis for State Senate and, as far as I can tell, she didn’t even bother to campaign this time. I saw no mailers, there were scattered signs, and I have no indication she knocked on doors, either. I understand there’s some name recognition involved here, but if someone can explain this one to me, I’m all ears!

I still say Dave Rickert, who was instrumental in the ‘So You Want to Win a Local Election’ book process, will beat her in November. Pierog is not a good candidate, but Ellsbree must be worse!

Now for the more interesting county board races!

Despite my advice to the contrary, outgoing Chairman Chris Lauzen’s insistence on going after District 10 incumbent Susan Starrett did not propel her to a victory. Former Batavia Alderman Dave Brown beat her by 12.5 points, and trust me, it wasn’t the negative campaigning that did Starrett in, it was Brown’ work ethic that did the trick.

Meanwhile, in a battle of the incumbents – both have held the seat – Ron Ford beat Matt Hanson by a scant 18 votes! Yes! Sixty-four absentee ballots are still out there, but statistically, only 32 will come back in the next two weeks. That means Hanson needs 26, or 81 percent of those votes, to turn it around and that’s a statistical impossibility.

Hanson has yet to concede the race.

And now I can tell you I was Ron’s paid campaign manager and he was a joy to work with. I love it when people listen because they typically win when they do!

As for the rest of the board races:

  • Dale Berman beat Richard Leonard in the 2nd
  • Mavis Bates beat incumbent Angela Thomas in the 4th
  • Verne Tepe beat perennial candidate Randy Hopp in the 22nd
  • And Mark Davoust beat Steve Oscarson in the 14th

Oh! And with Joe Biden’s three primary victories last night, stick a fork in Bernie Sanders, he’s done. Please do the right thing for the Party and drop out Mr. Sanders!

Second-to-lastly, my Stetson’s off to Election Director Ray Esquivel and the entire Kane County Clerk’s Office for what appears to be a flawless performance under the most difficult election conditions I’ve borne witness to in 61 years.

And lastly, more than one moving-on-to-the-general Republican reached out to me terrified that only 24,000 Republicans cast a primary ballot to 50,500 scurrilous Democrats. But if anyone counts on that two-to-one split in November, they’ll be sadly disappointed. There was no top tier race to bring out those GOP voters, and the coronavirus only exacerbated that stay at home mentality.

Put more simply, Trump v. Biden may well mean a record turnout on both sides.

As is always the case with the election recap columns, I look forward to your questions and comments!

13 thoughts on “Quick Hits – Your 2020 primary recap!

  1. Jeff,

    I think you’re looking at an outdated set of returns concerning Catalina Lauf’s 8,801 votes. According to the last set of returns, she had a total of 10,365. Here are the unofficial for the 14th:

    Jim Oberweis 13,187 25.6%
    Sue Rezin 11,720 22.8%
    Catalina Lauf 10,365 20.1%
    Ted Gradel 6,864 13.3%
    James Marter 5,666 11.0%
    Jerry Evans 2,576 5.0%
    Anthony Catella 1,109 2.2%
    TOTAL 51,487

    Whatever Lauf did in McHenry County, she needed to do in the other six counties, because she beat Oberweis by nearly 700 votes in the largest of the district’s counties to win it.

    But you were right back in December, it was Oberweis’ name ID that carried the day, and in his poll from late January, that gave him a 30 point lead. He won, with just under 3 percentage points to spare of his name ID.

    And Oberweis weathered nearly $1 million in negative TV/radio ads from an Independent Expenditure PAC, along with Rezin’s negative pieces/TV ad.

    I think the NRCC agrees with your view of the general election, since here it is, mid afternoon the day after, and the NRCC chairman has yet to issue a public statement of congratulations to Oberweis let alone pledge to help his campaign. The statement for Jeanne Ives in the 6th and Esther King in the 17th was out before midnight last night.

    Looks like national Republicans have written off flipping the 14th, so unless Oberweis can do a Joe Walsh of 2010 and flip it without Washington Republicans’ help, Underwood’s 2nd term is secure.

    How do you like the fact Joe Walsh is now a Democrat?

    As for Skillicorn winning again, he’s 2-0 against the same McHenry County Board member. What you didn’t mention is his November opponent, another member of the McHenry County Board, won her primary by an even bigger margin with 78%.of the vote.

    And here is where Skillicorn’s reelection is far from secure, there were nearly twice as many Democratic ballots cast in his district, or 4,000 more, than Republican ballots. And you may recall what happened to Don DeWitte in 2018 in the Skillicorn half of the 33rd senate district.

    And Skillicorn is an alternate delegate for President Trump?

    You and I both know Mike Madigan doesn’t make mistakes with elections often, and he did two years ago by giving Skillicorn a pass in the general. I think Madigan plans to make up for that oversight this fall and flip the 66th, and Madigan’s candidate crushed her rival.

    So did I read you right that the Kane County Board chairman Democratic nominee came close to pulling another Sue Klinkhamer when she won the same nomination spending only $35 back in 2012?

  2. John,

    Dammit! The Trib broke the column at the “number of precincts reporting” line and and I completely missed it. Though thankfully, those extra Lauf votes don’t change my point in any way, I should’ve been more careful.

    Allen will not lose to a Democrat ins the 66th. I know him too well and I know his work ethic.

    And Ms. Pierog didn’t come close, she did it better! Though I’m hearing she used social media, county events and email lists to win by that margin. I’ve also heard the Ellsbree made some serious campaign mistakes, particularly at the same events.

    But trust me! I’m workin’ on figuring out how a terrible candidate did that well..

    On the plus side! My campaign track record is over 90 percent right now. It won’t last and I do pick and choose my candidates, but it’s certainly fun to be able to say that!

    Jeff

  3. I know you are Kane County but look at totals in DuPage. Over a hundred thousand Democrat ballots to less than 40 thousand Republican ballots. Hell in DuPage County Bernie Sanders got more votes for President than Trump

  4. I think I just figured out whom the “erudite friend” is you referenced concerning Catalina Lauf, because I think the same friend posted elsewhere critical of Lauf insisting on staying in the race.

    I told them the same could be said of Ted Gradel, James Marter, Jerry Evans and Anthony Catella or even Sue Rezin. No secret, Rezin had residency challenge living outside the 14th district and Oberweis sent a hit piece in the mail attacking Rezin for it.

    But Gradel’s baggage with U.S. Stem Cell Clinic, LLC, when he was warned last fall everyone knew that issue was out there, and still stayed in the race and spent a lot of his own money, was labelled a “Contender” by the NRCC, a step above “On the radar”, and he came in 4th behind Lauf who spent none of her own money, and significantly less than Gradel.

    Do the math for his dollars/vote, and that’ll blow Lauf’s dollars/vote out of the water.

    But everyone needs to face the reality that what made Oberweis’ victory margin less than 3 percentage points of the unofficial vote count was the entity that Open Secrets calls a “Pop-Up” Super PAC spending over $900K in negative TV and radio spots attacking Oberweis.

    Technically, it’s not “dark money”, though I called it that, and so did Oberweis in his TV commercial responding to it. We’ll know who contributed to the Illinois Conservatives PAC when they file their Form 3X report for March next month, then we might have a better idea which challenger to Oberweis was behind it.

    • John,

      I’ll never tell. And since Ms. Lauf previously asked for my full and undivided attention, she got it!

      As for the anti-Jim TV spots, I really don’t think that stuff works anymore.

      • I respectfully disagree with you on the anti-Oberweis TV spots. Generally, people don’t like negative campaigning, but campaigns still do it & spend big money for it. Why? Because it works.

        Did you see the Ogden & Fry independent poll that was released on March 6 that was conducted on March 5? While that poll had its flaws, it’s the only benchmark poll fully released to the public (it was commissioned by State Representative Keith Wheeler). It had Oberweis leading with 37.6% compared to Rezin at 24.7%

        The anti-Oberweis TV/radio spots started running the weekend of the 7th, and ran up through election day

        And Oberweis won with 25.6% of the vote. If that benchmark poll was accurate, a drop of 12 percentage points (margin of error +/- 4.32%) that can be attributed to the TV spots.

        And Rezin finished with 22.8%, within the poll’s margin of error. There were no negative TV spots against her after the poll was conducted.

        That same poll nailed Catella with the 2.2% that he finished of the vote, and Marter’s by 3 tenths of a point.

        Gradel went from 6.0% in the poll to 13.3% on election day on the strength of his positive TV commercial, which was a full broadcast TV ad buy.

        Looks like Oberweis and Rezin kept to cable TV for their ad buys, as I never saw their commercials on broadcast TV.

        Something the campaigns that came up short need to realize for a race at this level, how/where/wen you do your media ad buys.

      • Sorry John,

        You’re wrong. Much like all the panic might finally be in the stock market, the same thing could be said about the negatives with Jim. EVERYONE in Illinois knows exactly who he is.

        And I don’t need no stinking poll.

        Much like it was with Hillary’s emails in 2016, the campaign finance shenanigans were the last straw with him. Voters were willing to hold their collective noses and vote for Clinton and Oberweis until they did “one more thing.”

        In that campaign managing regard, might I remind you that, though it’s small potatoes, putting Ron Ford over Kane County Board incumbent Matt Hanson may well be my crowning glory. Hanson had the full support of the Aurora Democrats and particularly State Rep Barbara Hernandez who occasionally walked with him.

        You probably noted that Hernandez obliterated her opponent.

        But my motivational and “let him hang himself” strategy beat Hanson by 18 votes. And that’s not the only big race I won that night. With nowhere else to go, I may just retire!

  5. What’s up with 52nd Illinois Representative District? I think it went Blue in 2018. No primary Dem candidate to replace retiring David McSweeney. There’s still time to recruit and for someone to step up.

  6. Jeff I understand no really good races for Republicans in DuPage but god the Democrats that came out. In my day as an old person we would laugh at the Democratic turnout and it does matter if you get your troops out it shows power especially if uncontested. And I know for a fact there are Republican judges very very concerned about November. Love your blog. I have to dive deeper into Kane but at least Oberweis will be gone. And as a Republican I fear for my party. No Thompson Edgar Percy or even Pate

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