Hundreds gather to get their names on the 2022 ballot

Candidates line up outside the Illinois State Board of elections building on a rainy morning to...
Candidates line up outside the Illinois State Board of elections building on a rainy morning to file their petitions(WGEM)
Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 3:46 PM CST
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correction: Rachel Ventura is running for Illinois Senate, not Illinois House of Representatives

SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Paper petitions stacked ten inches tall, covered in plastic wrap and shielded from the wet snow held candidate’s tickets onto the ballot for the 2022 race.

The first person in line, US Senate candidate Peggy Hubbard (R), said her staff has been waiting since the Friday before. She’d come by a couple times to check up on them. Sunday afternoon, she took her place to wait.

“We’re here overnight, actually we got here Sunday afternoon, when it was sunny and warmer,” Hubbard said beneath a blanket. “Then the bottom fell out with rain, now it’s snowing.”

Despite her overnight stay, her hair and makeup looked untouched by the harsh weather, she said that comes from a campaign trick she picked up along the way, but didn’t share her secret.

Behind her was the first Democrat in line, Rachel Ventura of Joliet is looking to take the open Illinois Senate seat in her newly-drawn district. She brought her twin daughters to stand in line for her first state race and slept in a tent overnight. She’s currently on the Will county board.

“We think it’s really important to be here, and show the voters how important this election is,” Ventura said.

It’s a tradition in Illinois politics to line up outside the election office to deposit your petitions on the first day they’re accepted. Candidates will have the entire week to submit their signatures, but filing them today gives them a chance to be the first name on the ballot for their race.

“It’s a lot of shared camaraderie,” Gubernatorial candidate Paul Schimpf said. “Only other candidates understand what it’s like to go through this, so it’s a lot of fun.”

It’s a chance to talk with fellow friends and politicians, but it’s also a chance to scope out the competition. The Illinois Governor’s race is shaping up to be competitive, especially in the Republican primary. Four candidates filed petitions today and more may come through the week.

Richard Irvin and Avery Bourne, a pair backed by billionaire and former Bruce Rauner supporter Ken Griffin, filed their petitions quickly in a separate area of the elections building and left. They made a quick stop in the parking lot for questions from the press, but promised to say more at a campaign rally later in the day.

Rolling in with a car emblazoned with “Fire Pritzker” window decals, downstate Senator and governor’s candidate Darren Bailey came in to turn in “over 18,000″ petitions. The maximum the state board of elections can accept is 6,500, but candidates bring the extras.

Bailey criticized Irvin as not being a real Republican.

“He’s probably filing as a Republican, he probably should file as a Democrat,” Bailey said. “I think the people are aware of that already. You look at his social media, he doesn’t have a message.”

Bailey is also the recipient of a one million dollar donation from another wealthy political donor, Richard Uhlein. when asked if he thinks more donations may be on his way, Bailey said he thinks so.

Former state legislator Schimpf tallied in at over 8,000 signed petitions. He considers himself different from his fellow Republicans because he presents “plans,” he said, whereas other candidates rely on emotion.

“Hope is not a plan, and anger cannot be a solution,” he said. “We need leaders that can unify our state.”

Despite the competition from other candidates, he also believes the Republicans are all on the same team with a similar goal.

“We’re all on the same team, we wish each other luck,” Schimpf said.

The first of the Republican gubernatorial candidates in line, but one of the lesser known names is Gary Rabine, a businessman focusing his campaign on supporting small businesses with the state. His campaign is largely self funded, though nowhere near the numbers of Irvin and Bailey’s campaign. He’s hoping to make up some ground in the days before the primary.

“I was the lesser-known name, I’m running into he top couple spots now,” Rabine said. “I’m lesser known because I’ve never been a politician.”

There’s still time left before the Republican candidate is officially decided. Most are running on the same premise: they want to be the one to “take down” incumbent Governor JB Pritzker.

Pritzker doesn’t seem to face any strong competition. he and Lieutenant Governor Julianna Stratton took the opportunity to take aim at Republican candidates.

“We’re sick and tired of Republicans trying to take away the benefits that working families get from having Democratic leadership,” he said.

The Democratic candidates will be fighting the elephant in the room: former Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, who was indicted on corruption charges last week. Pritzker said he believes anyone working with corrupt interests needs to be removed or voted out.

The primary will be June 28, and the general election on November 8. Of the over 450 candidates who filed today, they will be entered into a lottery to see who will be at the top of the ballot for their race.

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