Illinois' Unpredictable Primaries

A crowded ballot is set for Tuesday’s gubernatorial election in Illinois, a state that hasn’t been able to stay out of the news—and not for the right reasons. Incumbent Pat Quinn is facing a tough slew of competitors one year after replacing Rod Blagojevich. Quinn is currently facing a challenge from state Comptroller Dan Hynes for the top spot on the Democratic ballot. Racial tensions have flared in the fight between Quinn and Hynes, as both have run ads that critics describe as intentionally inciting a division in the African-American community. The Republican side features a seven-way race, out of which three GOP aspirants have taken the lead. Former Illinois GOP Chairman Andy McKenna is the frontrunner, with former state Attorney General Jim Ryan and state Senator Kirk Dillard trailing not far behind. Also at stake is a narrowing of the field for the Senate seat left open by President Obama. Players in the state’s notoriously political-machine-driven election for the 14th Congressional District include former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s son, Ethan Hastert. Hastert is the current frontrunner for the Republican side, but he faces challenges from state Senator Randy Hultgren. Kirk Dillard recently became the butt of a friendly joke of Obama’s when the president noted the ridiculously bipartisan nature of the race by commenting that “in the Republican primary, of course, they’re running ads of him saying nice things about me. Poor guy.” (an earlier version misidentified the target of Obama's joke as Hultgren)