Gay Marriage Dominates Illinois Legislative Primaries

Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 04:39 PM

By John Gizzi

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In the most-watched Republican primaries in Illinois on Tuesday, conservatives failed to oust two Republican state representatives who voted last year to legalize same-sex marriage.

State Rep. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove narrowly defeated teacher Keith Matune, while state Rep. Ed Sullivan of Mundelein rolled up about 59 percent of the vote against bus driver Bob Bednar.

First-time candidates Matune and Bednar had the backing of pro-family groups, while national gay and lesbian groups rallied behind Sandack and Sullivan.

Another Republican who supported same-sex marriage, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, won the primary for state treasurer. Backed by popular Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, Cross won about 56 percent of the vote over DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan, a favorite of the tea party.

But cultural conservatives did get some good news in Tuesday's legislative primary results. In Cross' 97th District, conservative and pro-life candidate Mark Batinick easily won the Republican nomination to succeed Cross.

In DuPage County, Thomas More Society lawyer Peter Breen easily unseated veteran moderate Republican state Rep. Sandy Pihos. Breen participated in the Thomas More Society's fight to defend Illinois' ban on gay marriage.

The conservative Breen won 57 percent of the vote in the GOP primary and is unopposed in the November election.

Regardless of whether GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner unseats Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, Prairie State Republicans have no confidence they can win control of either house of the state legislature. Democrats hold a 71-to-47-seat advantage in the state House of Representatives and a 40-to-19-seat edge in the state Senate.

Illinois voters also picked nominees on Tuesday for congressional seats.

The most-watched primary for Congress was in central Illinois' 13th District, where freshman Republican Rep. Rodney Davis defeated Erika Harold, a lawyer and former Miss America, 57 percent to 43 percent.

GOP sources told Newsmax that Harold, who is black, was considered an attractive candidate and had been urged to run for lieutenant governor or attorney general by more than one gubernatorial hopeful.

However, the sources said, she insisted on the House race and was particularly upset that a party committee chose Davis over her as the GOP nominee two years ago, when then-Rep. Tim Johnson announced his retirement after winning the primary. Harold raised $122,000. Davis raised more than $1 million.

In the race for the nomination to face Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin, a Republican long compared with the late perennial presidential candidate Harold Stassen emerged triumphant.

Jim Oberweis, whose family's ice cream parlors are a fixture in Illinois, has run for the U.S. Senate twice, governor, U.S. representative, and state party chairman. Two years ago, he finally won a seat in the state Senate, and on Tuesday, at age 67, he won the U.S. Senate nomination.

Former Republican Reps. Bobby Schilling and Robert Dold were nominated for comeback bids two years after being unseated. Both won their lone terms in the House in the Republican year of 2010, and both were swept out in 2012 in districts where Barack Obama won 57 percent of the vote.

Dold, a lawyer, drew 49 percent of the vote in the suburban Chicago district that he lost to Democrat Brad Schneider, and pizza parlor owner Schilling got about 47 percent in the Rock Island district he lost to Democrat Cheri Bustos.

History is against defeated House members who make comeback bids in Illinois.

Of the eight who attempted comebacks in the last half of the 20th century, only two won, and both were Democrats: Abner Mikva in 1974 and Barrett O'Hara in 1952.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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