2022 Illinois Primary Election Summary

July 6, 2022

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Illinois’ primary election occurred on June 28, 2022. Election results were favorable for far-right Republicans and progressive Democrats, who defeated more moderate candidates in a number of races. On the other hand, Democrat and Republican General Assembly leadership-backed candidates suffered defeats at the hands of more left- or right-wing challengers. It remains to be seen if far-right Donald Trump-style candidates can win statewide in Illinois, particularly in the Chicago suburbs. Additionally, the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade could provide another reason for moderate suburban voters to vote Democrat in a year that is otherwise likely to favor Republicans.

Statewide turnout was estimated to be under 20%, the lowest since 2014 when 18.1% of registered voters cast a primary ballot. Turnout in Chicago and suburban Cook County was also estimated to also be slightly under 20%. DuPage County reported the highest turnout in the Chicago area at around 22%. Many southern Illinois counties also reported around 20% turnout. Low voting numbers are typical of midterm primaries. This year’s particularly low figures could be further influenced by the abnormal June primary date.

Here is information on key primary races:


Gov. J.B. Pritzker easily held off a primary challenge from Beverly Miles, winning over 90% of the vote.

In the Republican governor primary, far-right state Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) defeated five opponents, winning over 57% of votes. Notably, Bailey defeated Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin and venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan. Irvin was backed by billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin and received over $50M in campaign funds from Griffin. After months of Irvin as the presumed frontrunner, Bailey’s campaign pulled off a late surge by labeling himself as the Trump candidate. Bailey received an endorsement from former president Trump about a week before the election, but at this point he was already the clear frontrunner. With his candidate all but certain to lose, Ken Griffin announced that he and his company will be leaving Chicago for Miami about a week before the election. Gov. Pritzker and the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) ran a number of ads linking Bailey to Trump, under the belief that Bailey would be easier to defeat in the general election than a more moderate candidate. Bailey’s victory signals a changing of the tide in the Illinois Republican Party, giving more control to the far-right wing.


Former State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias defeated Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia and two other candidates in the Democratic primary for secretary of state.

Giannoulias will face House Deputy Republican Leader Dan Brady (R-Bloomington), who defeated Ken Griffin-backed former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois John Milhiser with over 75% of the vote in the Republican primary. With long-time incumbent Jesse White retiring, this is the first open race for secretary of state since 1998.


Incumbent Attorney General Kwame Raoul did not have a Democratic primary challenger. Thomas DeVore, an attorney who successfully struck down Gov. Pritzker’s COVID-19 school mask mandate, defeated Ken Griffin-backed international business lawyer Steve Kim and attorney and author David Shestokas in the Republican primary. This is another victory for the far-right wing of the Republican Party.


Incumbent Sen. Tammy Duckworth did not have a Democratic primary opponent. Suburban attorney Kathy Salvi defeated six challengers in the Republican primary to take on Sen. Duckworth in November.


Jonathan Jackson, the son of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, won the Democratic primary to replace retiring Rep. Bobby Rush. Jackson defeated a large field of candidates, with none winning over 30% of the vote.


In this newly created Latinx-majority district, state Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) defeated Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas (36) in the Democratic primary. Ramirez was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders and other progressive groups, providing a victory for progressives over moderates.


Rep. Sean Casten defeated Rep. Marie Newman in the 6th district Democratic primary. Redistricting placed the two incumbents in the same district in an effort to create a second Latinx-majority district in the Chicago area. Two weeks before election day, Casten paused his campaign to grieve the loss of his 17-year-old daughter Gwen. Newman dealt with legal issues throughout the campaign.


Incumbent Rep. Danny Davis defeated gun violence and criminal justice reform advocate Kina Collins in the Democratic primary. In a rematch from 2020, Collins challenged Davis from the left. However, in 2020 she only received 14% of the vote. This time, Collins lost by less than 7% and outperformed Davis in the district’s suburban portions.


Rep. Mary Miller defeated Rep. Rodney Davis in this race that put two incumbent Republicans against each other. Davis’ old district was made to be more favorable for Democrats, so he decided to run against Miller in the highly conservative 15th district. Davis positioned himself as more moderate than Miller. However, a Trump endorsement was enough for Miller to win in this downstate Illinois district, handing far-right Republicans another victory over moderates.


Kevin Olickal defeated one-term incumbent Rep. Denyse Wang Stoneback (D-Skokie) in the Democratic primary. Stoneback was supported by House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside), whereas Olickal had the backing of the district’s associated senator, Ram Villivalam. While she ran as a progressive in 2020, Stoneback faced controversy around the hiring of a former Evanston employee involved in the sexual misconduct scandal at public beaches. Olickal captured the progressive vote this time to defeat Stoneback by around 5%.


Incumbent Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) was defeated by challenger Abdelnasser Rashid in the Democratic primary. Zalewski’s moderate views, ties to former House Speaker Madigan, and vote against the repeal of the Parental Notification of Abortion Act were used effectively against him, despite strong support from Speaker Welch and other members of the House Democrats.


Incumbent House Republican Conference Chair David Welter (R-Morris) was defeated by Darren Bailey-backed Jed Davis, a Christian school president, in the Republican primary. This is another victory for far-right Republicans and a loss for House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), who backed Welter.


Chuy Garcia-backed challenger Norma Hernandez defeated incumbent Rep. Kathleen Willis in the Democratic primary. Hernandez campaigned on a progressive platform to represent this majority-Latinx district. Willis faced criticism for her ties to former House Speaker Madigan, despite being the only member of his leadership team not to support his reelection as speaker.


Travis Weaver, the son of former state Sen. Chuck Weaver, defeated incumbent Rep. Mark Luft in the Republican primary. Darren Bailey endorsed Weaver, whereas Leader Durkin endorsed Luft.


Incumbent Sen. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) held off a primary challenge from Chicago police officer Erin Jones. Martwick was the top target of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), who backed Jones and opposed Martwick’s votes on criminal justice reform legislation, such as the SAFE-T Act. Martwick had the backing of the teachers’ and firefighters’ unions, having sponsored key legislation for both groups, including the elected Chicago school board. Despite having voted in recent Democratic primaries, Jones had ties to the Northwest Side GOP Club.


Former Rep. Mary Eldy-Allen defeated Rep. Sam Yingling in this Democratic primary to replace outgoing Sen. Melinda Bush. Eldy-Allen had the backing of Sen. Bush, and a late endorsement from Gov. Pritzker help her secure the victory.


Incumbent Sen. Win Stoller (R-Germantown Hills) defeated challenger Brett Nicklaus in this tightly contested Republican primary. Stoller was endorsed by Darren Bailey, whereas Nicklaus had the support of House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.


Recently appointed Sen. Eric Mattson (D-Joliet) lost to Will County Board Member Rachel Ventura in this Democratic primary. Ventura ran a progressive campaign and was able to win, despite Mattson being appointed to fill out the remainder of outgoing Sen. John Connor’s term and his significant fundraising advantage.