Pritzker Wins IL Dem Gov. Nomination, Rauner & Lipinski In Dogfights

J.B. Pritzker, Democratic candidate for Illinois governor, takes questions from the press before the start of St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, March 17, 2018 in Chicago, Ill. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service

This story was updated at 10:15 p.m.

Billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker (D) has won the nomination to be the Democratic candidate for Illinois governor this fall. But two top lawmakers in the state are clinging to narrow leads in their primaries after committing apostasies against their parties’ base voters — including the sitting governor that everyone thought would be Pritzker’s opponent.

Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) is sweating out a surprisingly strong right-wing challenge from state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R) fueled by conservative anger over his support for bills expanding abortion access and protecting undocumented immigrants in the state. It looks like Rauner will hang on, but, with nearly two thirds of the vote counted, he had just a four-point lead over Ives. That’s a major alarm bell for his ability to win the general election: He’ll somehow need to unite his base while winning back moderates in a blue state where his poll numbers with independent voters are in the toilet.

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) has the same problem in reverse: He is stridently opposed to abortion, voted against Obamacare and splits from his party on some gay rights and immigration issues. Those positions have left him vulnerable on the left, and he’s in a dogfight to hang on to his seat in the face of a challenge from former advertising executive Marie Newman. Lipinski clings to a slim two-point lead with 87 percent of precincts reporting.

Former Chicago mayoral candidate Chuy Garcia has won nomination to replace retiring Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) in a safely Democratic district, and highly touted Democratic recruit Brendan Kelly has won his primary to face Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) this fall.

Democrats are also naming challengers to Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL), Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Randy Hultgren (R-IL), and EMILY’s List-backed Lauren Underwood and Betsy Dirksen Londrigan have comfortable leads in those races, though they haven’t been called as of 10:15 p.m.

Stay tuned for more election results as they role in.

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