The statewide congressional races to watch ahead of primaries
There are three Chicago area must-watch Democratic Congressional primaries.
In the 6th District, which spans from Chicago’s Southwest Side through the south and west suburbs, it’s Congressman Sean Casten versus Congresswoman Marie Newman.
Springfield redrew districts pitting Newman against Congressman Jesus Chuy Garcia. Instead of running against him, Newman decided to take on Congressman Casten in the new 6th District.
“The district wants somebody who cares about the voters and not the donors,” Newman said.
“My opponent’s got a real ethics issue,” Casten said.
Newman has been dogged by a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics alleging she may have offered a job to a potential primary opponent in order to gain his support. Newman calls the review “politically-motivated.”
A businesswoman turned activist, Newman supports Medicare for All and other progressive causes. She also talked candidly about defending abortion rights.
“I had an abortion when I was 19 and my daughter is a transwoman. Once you take people’s choices away is when you degrade our society,” Newman said.
Casten, a scientist and entrepreneur, has developed a reputation in Congress as a climate activist. Casten has shown the ability to connect with voters in the center. In 2018, he got more votes in the district than Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.
“I think there’s so much more that unites us than divides us,” Casten said.
A third person on the ballot, Charles Hughes, is a low-profile long-shot candidate.
IL-03 is a newly drawn district designed to boost Latino representation. It stretches from Chicago to Wheaton.
There are two top-tier candidates with significant name ID and campaign cash: Influential Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas and State Rep. Delia Ramirez, an assistant majority leader in the Illinois House.
Villegas calls himself a pragmatic progressive.
“I like to get things done,” Villegas said. “I don’t allow perfect to be the enemy.”
Villegas tells his story in a TV spot: “As a marine, a union truck driver, an alderman, I’ve fought the fights for everyday working people.”
Ramirez favors a more progressive agenda.
“I’m an accomplished, effective legislator who has legislated for the entire state,” Ramirez said.
In the campaign’s closing days, Ramirez has gone on the attack.
“Gil Villegas, he is a lobbyist for big oil, for private prisons and for ComEd, which was caught giving out bribes,” Ramirez said.
In Illionis’ First Congressional District, there’s solidly blue turf running from Chicago’s South Side to Joliet. Seventeen Democrats are desperately trying to stand out. Among the hopefuls are a Chicago City Council member, a State Senator, an ordained minister, a realtor, a professor, and multiple activists.
On the Republican side, the most closely watched contest in Illinois is Rodney Davis versus Mary Miller in IL-15. Former President Donald Trump is backing Miller over the advice of Washington GOP leadership and some Republicans believe the former president may hit the stump for her.
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