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ELECTIONS 2020 Biden takes Illinois; trans candidate makes history
by Andrew Davis and Matt Simonette

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Former Vice President Joe Biden, building on the momentum he's acquired in the past two weeks, easily defeated U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (and, technically, Tulsi Gabbard) in the Illinois Democratic primary on March 17.

Biden also easily won Florida (and he was projected to win Arizona as well), as Sanders' lack of support was attributed to everything from Biden's overall backing from African Americans to Sanders' throngs of young voters being negatively affected by the COVID-19 situation.

Biden's victory was called early in Illinois (as he was leading Sanders 59 percent to 35 percent at 9:15 p.m. CT), and followed wins in South Carolina as well as most of the Super Tuesday states. (Incidentally, Ohio was also supposed to hold its primary March 17, but pushed it to June, citing coronavirus-related concerns.) The next big contest is slated for Tuesday, April 28, when New York, Pennsylvania and three other states are slated to hold primaries.

On the local front, there was a historic win for Jill Rose Quinn—who became the state's first openly transgender judge.

Federal races

Most of the Congressional races ran true to form, with Democratic incumbents easily defeating challengers. This included, among others, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly rolling over Marcus Lewis, incumbent Mike Quigley winning over progressive attorney Brian Burns, and longtime U.S. Rep. Danny Davis sailing by three challengers: Kina Collins, Anthony Clark and Kristine Schanbacher. Others—such as U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Brad Schneider, Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood—ran unopposed.

However, the most closely watched federal race was the one involving Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski and challenger Marie Newman. Newman claimed victory, stating, "What a journey. I am bursting with pride and gratitude for the amazing coalition who helped bring about much needed change in our district. We are going to work together to lower healthcare costs, to fight climate change, and to continue building a hospitable community for everyone, no matter where you come from." Lipinski made some moves that many Democrats consider controversial, such as recently aligning with Republicans who ultimately want to overturn the abortion case Roe v. Wade.

By the way, Casten could be headed toward an intriguing November showdown, as it looked he was slated to go up against Republican Jeanne Ives in the general election. Two years ago, Ives (who is far-right) ran an ad mocking, among other groups, transgender Illinoisans.

County-wide posts

In the local election's most high-profile race, incumbent Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx captured about 48.1 percent of the vote to keep her office. Opponent Bill Conway, who ran an especially aggressive campaign, captured 32.5 percent of the vote, followed by Donna Moore (14.2 percent) and Bob Fioretti (5.1 percent). Foxx competes against Republican Patrick O'Brien in November; he captured 73.2 percent of the vote against opponent Christopher Pfannkuche.

Gay attorney and activist Jacob Meister attempted a second attempt to win the office of the Clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court, but, as of press time, he trailed his opponents with 13.3 percent of the vote. Iris Martinez (34.7 percent) was in the lead for that post, followed by Michael Cabonargi (27.5 percent) and Richard Boykin (24.5 percent).

State and local races

The Illinois Senate races primarily featured Democratic incumbents who either ran unopposed or did not have serious competition. They include state Sens. Heather Steans (D-7th District), Kimberly Lightford (D-4th), Antonio Munoz (1st) and Dave Koehler (D-46th).

A number of incumbent LGBT state representatives ran unopposed this election cycle and will presumably return to Springfield next term. All Democrats, they include state Reps. Lamont Robinson (5th District), Kelly Cassidy (12th), Greg Harris (13th) and Sam Yingling (62nd).

Harris has been House Majority Leader since early 2019.

Cassidy was co-chair to the campaign of openly gay acting state Rep. Yoni Pizer's bid to hold on to the 12th District office—vacated by now state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz. On March 18, Pizer (who had the backing of Feigenholtz and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot) conceded to winner Margaret Croke (who had the support of Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker), saying, "I was humbled and honored to be appointed the first-ever openly gay representative of the 12th District, which includes the historically LGBTQ community of Boystown. I intend to work with Representative-Elect Croke to ensure that it receives the representation we need and deserve."

Pizer was not the only openly LGBT candidate in the 12th District race; his opponents included James Garfield (5.9 percent), Marty Malone (3.1 percent) and Ryan Podges (3.1 percent), all of whom are openly gay.

Among other LGBT candidates, Ty Cratic, who has worked on a number of political campaigns, lost a bid to represent the 9th District, in an extremely crowded race. That contest seemed to be led by Lakes Collins, who had 46.5 percent of the vote. Cratic had 7.6 percent.

Michelle Darbro, a Norwood Park career firefighter and paramedic won the Democratic spot on the general election ballot to represent the 20th District in November. Having won 64.6 percent of the vote, she'll be up against Republican Brad Stephens.

Denika McMillen, a Naperville social worker lost her bid to represent the 41st District. She received 29.9 percent of the votes while opponent Janet Yang Rohr received 70.1 percent . First-time candidate Ken Mejia-Beal ran unopposed in the 42nd District, and will run against Republican Amy Grant in November.

Lesbian Maggie Trevor appears poised to square off against longtime LGBT-rights foe Tom Morrison in the 54th District in the Northwest suburbs once more in November. She defeated opponent Ryan Huffman (19.2 percent) with 80.8 percent of the vote.

Openly gay Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager won 64 percent of the vote against opponent opponent Peter Janko (36 percent). He'll face incumbent Steven Reick in November.

Downstate, Karla Bailey Smith ran unopposed to win the 88th District candidates slot. She'll face Republican Keith Sommar in November. In the 93th district, Democrat Emiliano Vera (34.6 percent) lost a bid against Scott Still (65.4 percent) to challenge incumbent Republican Norine Hammond in November.

Among incumbents who kept their seats were state Reps. Ann Williams, Jennifer Gong Gershowitz, Robyn Gabel, Michael Madigan (who is also longtime House Speaker), Will Guzzardi and Jaime Andrade.


LGBTQ judicial candidates had varied results in the primary—but there was a historic finish in the mix.

Deidre Baumann, vying for the C. Sheehan vacancy, trailed Maura McMahon Zeller in a relatively tight three-person race; James Crawley came in last in a three-person race for the Roti vacancy; and James T. Derico Jr. was third in a four-person race for the Coghlan vacancy. However, Michael Forti (8th Subcircuit-Gubin vacancy) ran unopposed.

Family-law attorney Brad Trowbridge, who was a social worker before he became a lawyer, lost his third bid for a judicial post. He ran for the Fleming vacancy in 8th Cook County Subcircuit, garnering 45.67 percent of the vote against opponent Jonathan Clark Green's 54.33 percent.

Transgender attorney Jill Rose Quinn, who received a number of key endorsements, among them from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, scored a big win in her bid for a Cook County Circuit Court judgeship (K. Sheehan vacancy). Quinn won 62.17 percent of the vote. She is currently unopposed in the general election; if that stays, she will certainly be the first openly transgender judge in Illinois history.

Oak Park resident Levander Smith waged his first campaign for Cook County Circuit Court judge while he sat on the bench. In February 2019, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Smith as a judge (in the domestic-violence division), with a term set to expire Dec. 7, 2020. Smith won March 17 by capturing 44.99 percent of the vote.

Come back to for updated results .

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