Will Lack of Democratic Candidates Harm Pritzker?

Democratic congressional candidates increased their vote totals in the general election nearly everywhere in 2018 when Governor JB Pritzker was last on the ballot. A number of counties in the 12th and 18th congressional districts were anomalies outside of Chicago and the collar counties; Republicans had gains from the previous cycle throughout those counties. 

I know the 15th in 2018 was a nearly full slate across the district. We were second in the state for increasing Democratic support for candidates, right behind Rep. Bustos’ district in the NW. Of course every candidate did not prevail with the most votes. However, those gains in overall support were crucial in Pritzker’s overwhelming victory. 

JB won’t enjoy those same margins in 2022 because there are countless voids on the ballot where Democratic candidates should be. Not having any choices for county and state legislative races will drop the priority for voting throughout that area. 

The urgency and motivation behind voting is crucial. In an election with a candidate as fringe as Bailey, complacency can set into the mindset of Pritzker supporters. If they believe there is overwhelming support for Pritzker, why do they need to put out the effort since the local Democratic Party didn’t even bother slating candidates in the primary or general election?

I can see why the strategy of the Pritzker campaign has been to define Bailey as a threat that must be stopped. I doubt the strategy will drop Bailey’s vote count on Election Day by all that much because they are highly motivated voters. However, the Chicago Sun Times referred to Bailey’s efforts to win over Irvin Republican primary voters as “mostly barren efforts.”

JB knew he’d have no help downstate this cycle, so he has spent a ton of money defining his own narrative about his first term successes. I believe this tactic may blunt the damage from an empty Democratic slate of candidates down the ballot downstate. We shall see.

It’s risky to leave so much of the state unchallenged on the ballot and in the public square. Our population is decreasing while Chicago and the burbs are growing. Those demographic shifts are sometimes dramatic. Kendall County, for example, increased in population by 15%. We shall see if these dramatic shifts in population materialize into changes at the ballot box. 

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