Illinois voters on Tuesday will decide races ranging from who will be the next governor and secretary of state, to whether the state will amend its constitution.
Every seat in the state Legislature is also up, and suburban voters in the collar counties will help to determine which party wins a majority on the Illinois Supreme Court. Add to that, a handful of Illinois Congressional contests will play a role in deciding whether Democrats or Republicans will control the U.S. House.
Read More: WTTW Voter Guide to the General Election
Republican nominee for governor, state Sen. Darren Bailey of Xenia, gained statewide attention early in the COVID pandemic by protesting Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive orders that mandated masks in public places and schools and that temporarily required “non-essential” businesses to close.
Bailey is ending his campaign on that theme.
“J.B. Pritzker uses our kids to make political points. He locks school children out of their classrooms and he tries to twist their tender minds with ideology in his quest to be the most left wing governor in America,” Bailey said at a Monday morning stop in suburban Oak Brook, surrounded by what his campaign called “mama bears.”
Bailey and GOP attorney general nominee Tom DeVore said emails of public health officials discussing vaccines show that the Pritzker administration is planning to add the COVID shot to the list of vaccinations Illinois students are required to have in order to enroll in school, unless they have a religious or medical exemption.
“Another experiment is in the works: Large-scale child vaccination. J.B. thinks that parents are dimwits as he lies to them,” Bailey said.
Pritzker said his administration is not considering a COVID vaccine requirement for Illinois students.
When asked about it by reporters at a campaign stop in Springfield, the governor responded: “That’s not something we’re looking at doing.”
Pritzker said the rhetoric is a last minute attempt by Bailey to win votes after a campaign centered on misinformation.
“He just likes to put things out there, hoping that people will believe something and vote for him and vote against it,” Pritzker said. “He is lying about what vaccines do. He is not vaccinated himself, he is not somebody who believes in mitigations. He’s just putting out something new, hoping at the last minute, in desperate attempt to win some votes.”
Pritzker said Bailey is otherwise unfit for the state’s top job.
“Darren Bailey and the Republicans want to take this state backwards,” Pritzker said. “Darren Bailey wants to end workers’ rights to organize and he wants to end the state minimum wage.”
Bailey's campaign says it’s Pritzker saying ridiculous things to rile up his base.
As a state legislator, Bailey voted against the Pritzker-signed law that will raise the minimum wage statewide to $15 by 2025, but in one of two televised debates this campaign season, Bailey said he would not rescind the law.
Pritzker made the comments at one of several campaign events with other members of the Democratic ticket. Besides Springfield, they rallied at union halls in Marion in southern Illinois, Caseyville near St. Louis, Peoria, Moline and Rockford.
Unions are working not only to elect the Democrats on the statewide ticket, they’re behind a constitutional amendment question that would add collective bargaining protections to the Illinois Bill of Rights.
Voters statewide will also have an opportunity to either send Democrat Sen. Tammy Duckworth back to Washington, or to replace her with Republican Kathy Salvi.
All of Illinois’ constitutional offices are on the ballot, with Attorney General Kwame Raoul facing Devore, Comptroller Susana Mendoza against Republican nominee Shannon Teresi and Treasurer Mike Frerichs against Illinois House Deputy Republican Leader Tom Demmer.
With longtime Secretary of State Jesse White not running again after six terms, that office is open for the first time since 1998.
Both major party nominees won contested primaries to make it to the general election, in which Republican state Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington is running against former state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.
Democrats have the monetary advantage, with funding both from unions and billionaire Pritzker.
The governor is the prime contributor to the Democratic candidates for the 2nd and 3rd Illinois Supreme Court districts, Lake County Circuit Court Judge Liz Rochford and Appellate Judge Mary Kay O’Brien.
In a rare opportunity, suburban collar county voters will have the chance to vote for them, or Republicans, former Lake County sheriff Mark Curran and current Supreme Court Justice Michael Burke.
The outcomes could flip control of the state's high court away from Democrats for the first time in decades.
With control of Congress up for grabs, visits by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris can be viewed as signs that Democrats are concerned that some seats they currently hold in Illinois could be slipping, including in the newly redrawn suburban 6th, 11th, and 14th districts. The 17th district in the Quad Cities and the 13th district in central Illinois are also potential toss-ups.
Because it’s the first election after the once-in-a-decade redistricting process that reconfigures legislative districts, all 177 Illinois General Assembly seats are on the ballot, though roughly a dozen are viewed as competitive.