State Representative Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) is hoping to pull off an upset Tuesday against incumbent Republican governor Bruce Rauner, who is clinging to a narrow lead in the polls.
Ives has run a conservative campaign focused on Rauner’s broken promises. He failed to stop the Democrat-dominated legislature from raising income taxes; failed to veto a bill to expand state funding for abortion, as he had indicated he would do; and signed legislation making Illinois a “sanctuary state” for illegal aliens.
On the Democratic side, the race is also close. Frontrunner J.B. Pritzker is a billionaire heir to the Hyatt fortune and the choice of the party machine, led by State House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).
He is, however, closely pursued by left-wing State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) and real estate magnate Chris Kennedy, the latest scion of the Kennedy clan to seek political office.
Rauner’s defense against Ives’s challenge has been that she is “unelectable” because she is too conservative and openly supports President Donald Trump.
However, opinion polls have shown that Rauner would lose to virtually any Democrat in the fall, partly because he lacks the support of his own base.
Ives has also been targeted by the Democratic Governors Association, which is running ads against both Republican candidates — an indication of her strength. Her campaign accuses Democrats of meddling in the GOP primary.
Pritzker is expected to win on Tuesday, but it is possible that Biss’s committed core of followers — many of whom also supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the 2016 presidential election — could make the difference.
In low-turnout primary elections, enthusiasm can swing the results.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.