Election 2018

Midterm elections see increase in pro-choice members of Congress from Illinois

By AnnMarie Hilton
Medill Reports

Illinois provides greater access to abortion than many other Midwestern states, and the midterm election saw two pro-life congressman ousted by proponents of safe, legal abortions.

Democrat Lauren Underwood won the seat for Illinois’ fourteenth district removing Republican Randy Hultgren, who sponsored multiple pieces of pro-life legislation. The race for the sixth district paralleled that of Democrat Sean Casten winning over Republican incumbent Peter Roskam. Both districts cover  swathes of the northern, northwestern and western suburbs.

“They call us [Illinois] the abortion oasis of the Midwest,” said Mary Kate Knorr, executive director of Illinois Right to Life, an educational program. “I find that laughable.” Continue reading

Schneider wins third term in Illinois’ 10th District

By Alexis Shanes
Medill Reports

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider clinched reelection in the north suburban 10th District Tuesday, bringing a tame campaign to an unsurprising close amid a contentious national midterm season.

The Associated Press called the race for Schneider just before 8:30 p.m. The Deerfield Democrat defeated Republican candidate Douglas Bennett handily, using his incumbency to earn 63 percent of the vote in the district, which includes parts of suburban middle- and upper-class Cook and Lake counties.
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Surge of science professionals on ballot for midterm elections

By Hannah Magnuson
Medill Reports

Scientists and STEM professionals are bidding for political office in  historic numbers this election season, with three Democratic congressional candidates in Illinois among their ranks.

Their campaigns to bring scientific expertise to Washington come in the midst of repeated attacks against science by the Trump administration, most recently on the validity of climate change research.

“The attacks on science, of course, didn’t start with the Trump administration, but it has been a catalyst to getting scientists out of the lab and into running for federal office,” Shaughnessy Naughton, the founder of 314 Action, a political action group advocating for a pro-science agenda in Washington, told the HuffPost earlier this year. “That is one bright spot.”

Naughton’s organization, which promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals running for federal and state office, is endorsing 20 candidates for U.S. Congress this season, including Illinois Democrats Sean Casten (6th District), Bill Foster (11th District) and Lauren Underwood (14th District).

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The battleground in suburbia: Illinois’s 6th Congressional District

By Valerie Nikolas
Medill Reports

The congressional race is tightening in Illinois’s 6th District as Democrats vie for control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Incumbent Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) is fighting to keep his seat against Democratic contender Sean Casten. If elected, this would be the clean energy executive’s first time holding public office.

With the midterm elections barely one week away, a New York Times poll from Oct. 26 shows Casten leading Roskam 45 to 44 percent, well within the margin of error. Casten’s victory is not certain, but this race is closer than any of Roskam’s previous six winning campaigns for Congress.

This race, which echoes battles in suburbs across the country, is one of the most closely watched nationwide. Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to take control the House for the first time since 2011.

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Education, voting can empower America, says labor activist Dolores Huerta

By Katie Rice
Medill Reports

Labor activist Dolores Huerta thinks America is standing at a political and social crossroads to do the right thing for workers, women and people of color — especially with the upcoming midterm elections.

“We have to support each other,” Huerta said. “We have to protect each other. And we can stop this whole thing of hating somebody else because they happen to be different.”
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Election night dims early for State Sen. Daniel Biss

By Elizabeth Beyer
Medill Reports

The crowd of roughly 350 staffers, volunteers and supporters of State Sen. Daniel Biss (9th) shifted from joyful to somber in just two hours after the polls closed across Illinois earlier this evening.

Billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker won the Democratic gubernatorial primary race with more than 45 percent of the vote, nearly matching the 50 percent vote count that Biss and Chris Kennedy captured combined.

A supporter of State Sen. Daniel Biss listens as he delivers his concession speech on election night.

Biss shot ahead shortly after polls closed with less than 1 percent of the precincts reporting, but the race quickly turned in favor of Pritzker. The State Senator lost both the gubernatorial primary and his current senate seat this evening. His senate seat was up for re-election this year and Biss was only able to enter one political contest.

But Biss, who ran as the “middle-class candidate” among the front-runners, offered hope and gratitude in his concession speech.

“In so many ways, what we did was a success. We saw a broken system here in Illinois, a system where big money and political machines have way too much power,” Biss said during his concession speech. “We knew the solution to that, more than any one policy, was to fight for our democracy.”

The crowd listens to State Sen. Daniel Biss’ concession speech following his defeat in the primary for the Illinois gubernatorial race.

Nora Handler, a 62-year-old campaign volunteer for Biss said the State Senator’s record of supporting policy issues for people with disabilities motivated her to join Get Out the Vote efforts in support of the candidate.

“I’ve seen him on the streets fighting for budget cut issues and wage issues for people who support people with disabilities, long before he ran for governor.” said Handler. The state senator and former University of Chicago math professor has held office in Illinois since 2011 .

The race heated up quickly between Biss and Pritzker, from the first televised forum when Pritzker called into question the State Senator’s voting record in support of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, to the last gubernatorial forum, where Biss called the billionaire’s campaign a fraud.

Pritzker is estimated to have spent nearly $70 million to win the primary. Wealthy businessman Chris Kennedy is the son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

[Photo at top: Illinois State Sen. Daniel Biss (9th) and gubernatorial primary candidate pauses for the applause before delivering his concession speech on election night. He was joined on stage by his running mate State Rep. Litesa Wallace (67th), his family, and supporters.]

The After-Bern: Will Bernie Sanders make another run for President?

By Elizabeth Beyer
Medill Reports

Supporters of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are already calling on him to run for president in 2020.

The Vermont politician has yet to confirm or deny his second bid for the presidency but multiple news outlets have hinted at the possibility.

Regardless of his rumored political aspirations for the next presidential election, the impact Sanders had on the 2016 campaign trail and Democratic Party politics is lasting.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders backs Jesús “Chuy” García for Congress

By Elizabeth Beyer
Medill Reports

Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders spoke during a rally for congressional candidate Jesús “Chuy” García at Apollos 2000 in Little Village recently. Garcia is one of  three Democratic candidates vying for Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s seat after the representative of the 4th District in Illinois announced he would not seek reelection.

“I’m not here because Chuy Garcia is a friend of mine,” said Sanders. “I am here this afternoon because we are living in a pivotal moment in American history, we need strong progressive voices in Washington and Chuy Garcia will be that voice.” Continue reading

20-year-old candidate for Cook County’s 13th District pushes grassroots campaigning

By Elizabeth Beyer
Medill Reports

Bushra Amiwala was still in her teens when she announced her candidacy last March as one of three democratic contenders for the Cook County Board in the 13th District.

The DePaul University student, now 20, said people questioned her qualifications and background because of her age when she entered into the race. But the recent wave of first-time female candidates washed away the skeptics. Continue reading

Record number of millennials sign up to run for local office in 2018 midterms

By Elizabeth Beyer
Medill Reports

Grassroots organizations launched since the last national election to train young first-time candidates received thousands of requests for assistance.

First time candidates under the age of 35 are taking on entrenched incumbents in midterm races across the country. Many of them cited the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and lack of representation in local politics as their motivation.

One such organization, Run For Something, launched in January of 2017 with mostly small-donor contributions. 

“We thought it’d be really small, we’d get maybe 100 people who would want to run in the first year. Instead we have 15,000 millennials signed up with us to say they want to run for office,” said Amanda Litman, founder of Run for Something.

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