Statehouse Insider: When was the last time a primary election was still up for grabs just before the election? Too many times, there are few contested primary races to begin with and the contested ones often have one dominant candidate. There is next to no suspense by the time Election Day rolls around.
Just a couple of days left until the primary election. If history is any guide, voter turnout on Tuesday will be dismal. That will be a shame. This year especially.
When was the last time a primary election was still up for grabs just before the election? Too many times, there are few contested primary races to begin with and the contested ones often have one dominant candidate. There is next to no suspense by the time Election Day rolls around.
This year, though, there are a number of wide-open races, starting with Illinois governor. If the polls can be believed, the contest between Gov. PAT QUINN and Comptroller DAN HYNES is virtually a dead heat. Either could win Tuesday's election.
The Republican primary is even dicier. A large field of candidates will split the vote, meaning a relatively small number of votes could be enough to win. Couple that with the large number of voters still undecided, and just about any of the candidates could pull it out in the end.
This year we might actually have the novelty of counting the votes before some media outlet declares a winner. Primary election night might be interesting for a change.
*WILLIAM KELLY, Republican candidate for comptroller, was in the Capitol on Friday to talk about his federal lawsuit. He is suing Secretary of State JESSE WHITE for allowing an atheist sign in the rotunda during the holiday season. White allowed it as a free speech issue, along with a Christmas tree, Nativity scene, menorah and Festivus pole.
You may remember that Kelly showed up in the Capitol in December threatening to destroy the atheist sign. Instead, he merely turned it around before he was asked to leave the building by security.
The sign seems to have traumatized Kelly. His lawsuit talks about being "confronted" by the atheist sign, that it amounts to hate speech and is "hostile and inflammatory to all religions." Kelly wants the sign banned from the Capitol and other state buildings. He contends the sign violates the U.S. Constitution and that White had no authority to allow the sign into the Capitol.
About this point we're thinking that maybe the state has better uses for its scarce tax revenue than fighting off frivolous lawsuits like this. We're also thinking how convenient that Kelly filed the lawsuit more than a month after the displays were removed from the rotunda, but right before the primary election.
Should be just the stunt to put his candidacy over the top.
*Kelly held a news conference in the Statehouse on Friday to announce his handiwork. The best we can determine, two media outlets attended and one of them simply supplies live audio and video to subscribers. You could say media interest was minimal at best.
That didn't prevent Kelly from trying to perfect his delivery. After the actual "news conference," Kelly returned to the news conference room and re-taped his presentation - twice. Supposedly that's the stuff that will show up on his Web site.
His summary line? "If I'm elected comptroller, there will be no hate speech in the Capitol, especially around Christmastime," he said.
*When an election contest has no real issues (read lieutenant governor), the campaign can sometimes veer into the bizarre.
Two candidates for the office are Sen. RICKEY HENDON, D-Chicago, and Rep. ART TURNER, D-Chicago. The two men are not exactly what you would call close friends.
Last week, the Chicago Sun-Times did a story about the race. It quoted Turner saying that more than 30 years ago he rented an apartment to Hendon.
"He has the unique distinction of being the second person I've ever evicted," Turner said.
Hendon denied he was evicted. He said he left the apartment after two months because it was infested with rats and roaches.
And that concludes this week's recap of issues in the lieutenant governor's race.
*Hendon has a radio commercial out that's a lot different than you normally hear from a political candidate.
Let's just say that it is aimed at an urban audience. When was the last time you heard a political ad that included a line like this: "I'm going to vote for Rickey Hendon. The hell with the rest of them."
The man knows his audience.
Contact Doug Finke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the newspaper.