Ward Room's Election Cheat Sheet is a special column dedicated to informing voters about candidates in the lead-up to the March 15 Illinois primary elections.
Tammy Duckworth (D): Duckworth currently serves as the U.S. Representative for Illinois' 8th Congressional District. A combat veteran of the Iraq war. She subsequently served in the Illinois and national VA. She has advocated for gun control and pro-choice causes.
Andrea Zopp (D): Zopp is a Harvard Law graduate who served as First Assistant in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. She also served in the U.S. State's Attorney's Office and has held executive positions at Sara Lee, Sears Holdings and Exelon.
Napoleon Harris (D): Harris is currently the Illinois state Senator serving Illinois 15th District. He is a Northwestern-graduate and former first round NFL draft pick who played seven seasons as a pro.
Mark Kirk (R): Incumbent Kirk is a combat veteran considered to be a social moderate and fiscal conservative. He has voted with his party 73 percent during his time in Senate. He has held the office since 2010.
James Marter (R): Marter is a political newcomer with 30 years of business experience. He is a pro-life supporter and firmly believes in the right to keep and bear arms regarding our Second Amendment.
Storyline: According to recent polls, Kirk and Duckworth have commanding leads over their primary opponents. They have already started campaigning against one another in preparation for the Nov. 8 general election.
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Anita Alvarez (D): Incumbent Alvarez, a Chicago native from Pilsen, has spent her entire legal career in the State’s Attorney’s office. She has come under fire amid the Laquan McDonald scandal. McDonald, a 17-year-old Chicagoan, was shot and killed by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke in October of 2014. Van Dyke was not charged with McDonald’s murder until November of 2015 when dash-cam footage of the incident was made public as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request.
Kim Foxx (D): Foxx is also a Chicago native, raised in the Cabrini-Green housing projects. She served as an Assistant State’s Attorney for Cook County for 12 years. More recently, she has served as chief of staff for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Donna More (D): More is a former federal and state prosecutor who has largely self-funded her campaign. She is focused on making gun violence a top priority and addressing overcrowding at Cook County jail.
Christopher Pfannkuche (R): Pfannkuche served as a criminal prosecutor for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office for 21 years. He will run unopposed on the Republican ballot.
Storyline: Many Chicago voters have lost faith in Alavarez's leadership as a result of her handling of the McDonald case. Foxx has received a host of high-profile endorsements and is primed to unseat the incumbent.
Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court
Dorothy Brown (D): Incumbent Brown has served as Clerk of the Circuit Court since 2000. Last year, the FBI seized Brown’s cell phone after an employee of the clerk’s office was charged in a federal indictment alleging he had lied to a federal grand jury about being rehired by the clerk’s office after donating $15,000 to a company controlled by Brown’s husband. She has not been charged with a crime and denies any involvement.
Michelle Harris (D): Harris has served as the alderman to Chicago’s 8th Ward since 2006. She also works as secretary to the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
Jacob Meister (D): Meister has been a practicing attorney for 25 years. He has also served as the chairman of The Civil Rights Agenda, a non-profit dedicating to advancing and protecting the rights of LGBT people. In addition to this, Meister serves as the Chief Operating Officer of a real estate development firm.
Diane Shapiro (R): Shapiro is in her second term as the elected Republican Committeeman of Chicago’s 46th Ward. She previously served as a Cook County Deputy Sheriff and as a Cook County Adult Probation Officer. She will run unopposed on the Republican ballot.
Storyline: Opponents have called Brown's office a "den of patronage" and doubt the incumbent's ability to transition the Clerk's office to a paperless system. Meister and Harris have both run formidable campaigns to unseat her.
Mike Madigan (D): Incumbent Madigan has served as the state representative for the 22nd district since 1971. He has also served as Speaker of the House since 1983, with the exception of two years. Throughout Illinois' current budget stalemate, Madigan has been one of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s staunchest opponents.
Jason Gonzales (D): After dropping out of school in his teens and spending two months in jail for the unlawful use of credit cards, Gonzales reenrolled in high school and eventually graduated from Duke, MIT and Harvard. He is a champion of closing the funding gap in public schools and increasing funding for higher education and job training programs.
Joe Barboza (D) and Grasiela Rodriguez (D) will be included on the primary ballot but have not actively campaigned for the election. Neither candidate has a website or committee information.
Storyline: A political newcomer with a checkered past looks to unseat one of Illinois' most powerful politicicans.
Ken Dunkin (D): Incumbent Dunkin assumed office as the 5th District’s Representative in the Illinois House in 2002. Dunkin has come under fire from fellow Democrats after he broke up the Democratic super-majority in the Illinois House of Representatives last year, siding with Gov. Bruce Rauner on certain state budget issues.
Juliana Stratton (D): Stratton is an attorney who has held the position of deputy hearing commissioner at the City of Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection. Stratton has also served as an administrative law judge for the City of Chicago’s Office of Administrative Hearings and as executive director of the Cook County Justice Advisory Council. Stratton received a rare endorsement from President Barack Obama this week.
Storyline: Over $5 million has been funneled into the primary battle between Stratton and Dunkin. Many consider the race to be a proxy war between Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and Rauner over unions and control of the Illinois House.
U.S. House of Representatives, Illinois’ 1st Congressional District
Bobby Rush (D): Rush has served in Congress since 1993. Since being elected, he has voted with his party 97.8 percent of the time. He initiated the Chicago Partnership for the Earned Income Tax Credit. The program was designed to help low-income Chicagoans to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Patrick Brutus (D): Brutus recently served as the Coordinator of Economic Development for the City of Chicago in the Department of Planning and Development. Prior to that, he worked for the State of Illinois Department of Transportation.
Howard B. Brookins, Jr. (D): Brookins is the alderman for Chicago’s 21st Ward. He was elected in 2003 and is currently serving his third term. Brookins also served as an Assistant Public Defender, Assistant State’s Attorney and Special Assistant Attorney General.
August Deuser (R): Deuser is a political newcomer and former Chicago police officer and public school teacher.
Jimmy Lee Tillman II (R): Tillman, also a newcomer, describes himself as an “independent Republican.” His platform is based on a combination of moderate and conservative stances.
Storyline: Veteran Rush faces stiff competition on the Democratic ticket, while two newcomers face off on the Republican ticket.
Danny K. Davis (D): Davis has served as the U.S. Representative for Illinois’ 7th congressional district since 1997. He previously served on the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Davis has run on a pro-choice platform, supporting gay rights and a single-payer health care system.
Thomas Day (D): Day is an Iraq war veteran who enlisted in the service mere weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks. He served for five years in the Army’s 101st Airborne division, one of which was in Iraq. He later authored a book and worked as a journalist.
Storyline: Day has run a solid campaign and has a bright political future, but Davis is still the strong frontrunner.
Raja Krishnamoorthi (D): Krishnamoorthi was appointed a special assistant attorney general in the Public Integrity Unit by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan before leaving the office to serve as Illinois' deputy treasurer in 2007. He has also served as president of Bolingbrook’s Sivananthan Laboratories.
Michael Noland (D): Noland is a Democrat currently representing Illinois’ 22nd District in the state senate. He previously served in the Reserves with the U.S. Marine Corps and
Deb Bullwinkel (D): Bullwinkel was elected Village Trustee of Villa Park in 2009. She was later elected Village President of Villa Park in 2013. Bullwinkel is a small business owner who previously worked as a community newspaper reporter and as a director for mental health organizations.
Nancy Rotering (D): Rotering is an attorney and the current mayor of suburban Highland Park. She also served as a member of the Treasurer’s staff at General Motors Corporation and as an attorney for McDermott, Will & Emery before leaving to focus on government work in 2008.
Brad Schneider (D): Schneider previously served as the representative for Illinois’ 10th Congressional district from 2013 to 2015 before being ousted from office by incumbent Dold in the 2014 election. Schneider defeated Dold in the 2012 general election to win the seat. During his time in office, Schneider has supported the Affordable Care Act, Social Security and medicare, LGBT rights and sustainable energy, among other things.
Bob Dold (R): Incumbent Dold is considered a moderate Republican. During his tenure, he has supported abortion rights, gun control reforms and has not fought to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He is running unopposed on the Republican ticket.
Storyline: Rotering and Schneider have both run strong campaigns for the Democratic nomination, while Dold lies in wait for the Nov. 8 general election.
U.S. House of Representatives, Illinois’ 15th Congressional District
John Shimkus (R): Shimkus has served the 19th District since 2003. Prior to that he served as Congressman for the state’s 20th district. He currently serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as a handful of subcommittees. He rejects theories about human-induced climate change and has voted in support of the Keystone pipeline.
Kyle McCarter (R): McCarter has served as an Illinois state Senator since 2009. He previously served as a member of the St. Clair County Board. McCarter owns and operates two Illinois manufacturing companies. He is a supporter of less government and more freedom for families.
Storyline: Shimkus faces stiff competition from a fellow Republican in his bid for reelection.