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Tue March 20, 2012
A number of candidates are running unopposed in their party’s primary. In some cases, there is no one running in the other party’s primary, either. That could mean that, for some candidates, the fall election will be a mere formality.
Charles Laskonis is chair of the Winnebago County Democratic Party. When asked why Democrats aren’t running in some races, Laskonis says it’s a numbers game. “The predominant reason is that those districts tend to lean more heavily toward a Republican performance index - that’s favorable to Republicans and not so favorable to Democrats,” Laskonis says. Laskonis says, for example, Illinois’ 16th Congressional District has a very low-performing Democratic performing index, and that has probably discouraged potential candidates in his party. On the other hand, the 67th state house seat leans Democratic, and there is no Republican running for the seat in the GOP primary.
Laskonis’ Republican counterpart, James Thompson, says personal perception can also play a part when deciding whether to challenge someone. “It may be that an individual is viewed as providing a good job and a good service,” Thompson says. Thompson says there are also positions such as auditor or coroner that, while elected, are more specialized, and thus attract fewer candidates.
Laskonis and Thompson agree that contested elections are better for a healthy democracy. They noted that there ARE races with multiple candidates in each party’s primary. And both said their parties were actively recruiting people to fill the blank spots on the fall ballot.