Spotlight Politics: An Election Amid the Specter of Coronavirus


What to make of the election results Tuesday? And did the governor make the right call to hold the election amid COVID-19 fears?

According to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, he not only made the right call, but the only call there was to make. There is no provision in Illinois law for postponing or drastically altering an election in an event like a pandemic.

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

Pritzker said he would have been operating outside of the law to do so, that it would have set a terrible precedent and would have opened the state up to numerous legal issues.

Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen vented his frustration with that decision Tuesday morning, admitting that the board had urged the governor to postpone the primary.

But when all was said and done, the election went off with the usual isolated issues – polling places that didn’t have equipment, judges who didn’t show up – but it wasn’t the catastrophe that election officials had forewarned.

They might have been saved by the lower-than-normal turnout, and the fact that many people were working from home. So the usual early morning and late afternoon rush never materialized.

Older voters turned out in the largest numbers Tuesday despite concerns they would be most susceptible to coronavirus exposure. In Chicago and suburban Cook County, those ages 50 and older constituted a clear majority of voters. It’s one reason that former Vice President Joe Biden cruised to victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary – Sanders has relied heavily on turning out the youth vote. 

But beyond the presidential primary, there were some eye-opening results in Tuesday’s election. Six-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, who took over the seat from his father, Bill Lipinski, lost to the more progressive Marie Newman in the state’s 3rd Congressional District. Newman came within around 2,000 votes of defeating Lipinski two years ago, and figured to have a tougher road this year because there were two other candidates in the race to split the anti-Lipinski vote. 

But Newman’s victory might be a sign of the direction in which the Democratic Party is headed. Lipinski has long been a moderate Democrat who is anti-abortion. Newman is unabashedly in support of abortion rights and supported far-left proposals like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. The district is comprised of portions of Chicago’s Southwest Side, and several southwest suburbs. It’s an indication that, not only are the suburbs trending blue – but they are trending a darker shade at that.

Our politics team of Carol Marin, Amanda Vinicky and Paris Schutz digs into these stories and more in this week’s roundtable.

Follow us on Twitter: @wttw | @CarolMarin@paschutz@AmandaVinicky 


Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

randomness