Primary Results for Women in Illinois

March 21, 2018

11 women candidates – 6 (6D) for the U.S. House and 5 (2D, 3R) for statewide executive offices – secured nominations to compete in November’s general election in Illinois. All but one woman candidate for the Illinois state senate won nomination on Tuesday, and nearly three-quarters of women candidates for the Illinois state house were successful. 

Among the notable results for women in Tuesday’s Illinois primary:

  • Women will be 5 of 12 (41.7%) of the major party nominees for Illinois’ statewide executive offices, but less than 20% of the major party nominees for the U.S. House on Illinois ballots this fall.
  • Both major party candidates for lieutenant governor and state comptroller are women, including 3 women of color. Two women of color – incumbent Republican Evelyn Sanguinetti and Democrat Juliana Stratton – are nominees for lieutenant governor. The last time that two women of color competed against each other for lieutenant governor was in 2002 in Ohio.
  • 2 women general election candidates for the U.S. House from Illinois are women of color: incumbent Robin Kelly (IL-2) and challenger Lauren Underwood (IL-14) are both Black women. Underwood is also the only woman candidate under age 40. She defeated 6 middle-aged white men in the race for the Democratic nomination in Illinois’ 14th congressional district.
  • No Republican women ran as candidates for the U.S. House in Illinois. All 3 Democratic women incumbents will be on the ballot this fall, in addition to 3 Democratic women who will challenge Republican incumbents in districts rated likely or solidly Republican. Even if all of these women were successful, they would still hold just one-third of the seats in Illinois’ U.S. House delegation in 2019.
  • Marie Newman was unsuccessful in defeating incumbent Dan Lipinski in the hotly contested Democratic primary for Illinois’ 3rd District, and Sol Flores – who was the only Latina competing for a House nomination and the only woman running for Illinois’ open U.S. House seat (IL-4) – came in second place with 21.6% of the vote. No Latina has ever been elected to Congress from Illinois.

U.S. House

Six (6D) of the 17 women candidates for the U.S. House secured their party’s nomination. Women will be less than 20% of the major party nominees for the U.S. House on Illinois ballots this fall.

In both 2014 and 2012, 8 women won nominations for U.S. House races in Illinois; in 2012, 6 Democratic women were nominees, matching the number of Democratic women on House ballots this fall. In 2016 (4D, 2R), 2010 (4D, 2R), and 2008 (5D, 1R), 6 women were nominees for U.S. House races in Illinois.

Of this year’s nominees:

  • 3 (3D) are incumbents likely to win re-election in November. Democratic incumbents Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Robin Kelly (IL-2), and Cheri Bustos (IL-17) will all compete in districts deemed safely Democratic by Cook Political Report.
  • 3 (3D) women will challenge Republican incumbents in November.
    • Democrat Betsy Londrigan (IL-13) will challenge Republican incumbent Rodney Davis in a district that is deemed likely Republican by Cook Political Report. Davis won re-election by 19 points in 2016, but Donald Trump won the district by just 3 points in the same year.
    • Democrat Lauren Underwood (IL-14) will challenge Republican Randy Hultgren in a district that is deemed likely Republican by Cook Political Report. Hultgren won re-election by 18 points in 2016, but Donald Trump won the district by just 4 points in the same year.
    • Democrat Sara Dady (IL-16) will challenge Republican Adam Kinzinger in a district that is deemed solidly Republican by Cook Political Report. Kinzinger ran unopposed for re-election in 2016.
  • At least two of the Democratic women challengers – Betsy Londrigan (IL-13), Lauren Underwood (IL-14) – point to Republican incumbents’ votes against the Affordable Care Act as motivating their candidacies in 2018. Sara Dady (IL-6) also includes universal health care among her main policy priorities in this year’s campaign.
  • 2 of women candidates for U.S. House from Illinois are women of color: incumbent Robin Kelly (IL-2) and challenger Lauren Underwood (IL-14) are both Black women. Underwood is also the only woman candidate under age 40. She defeated 6 middle-aged white men in the race for the Democratic nomination in Illinois’ 14th congressional district.

Marie Newman was unsuccessful in defeating incumbent Dan Lipinski in the hotly contested Democratic primary for Illinois’ 3rd District, and Sol Flores – who was the only Latina competing for a House nomination and the only woman running for Illinois’ open U.S. House seat (IL-4) – came in second place with 21.6% of the vote. No Latina has ever been elected to Congress from Illinois.

Statewide Elected Executive Office

Five (2D, 3R) of the 10 women candidates who ran for statewide executive nominations were successful. Notably, women secured both major party nominations for lieutenant governor and state comptroller. Women will be 5 of 12 (41.7%) of the major party nominees for Illinois’ statewide executive offices this fall.

Two women of color – incumbent Republican Evelyn Sanguinetti and Democrat Juliana Stratton – are nominees for lieutenant governor. The last time that two women of color competed against each other for lieutenant governor was in 2002 in Ohio. If elected, Stratton would be the first Black woman elected to a statewide executive office in Illinois. In 2017, New Jersey’s Sheila Oliver became the first Black woman Democrat to be elected lieutenant governor nationwide.

Republican Erika Harold, who identifies as multi-racial (Black/Native American/White), will be on the ballot for attorney general this November. If elected, she would be the 1st woman of color attorney general elected in Illinois and the first Republican woman of color attorney general elected nationwide. Harold is 38 years old.

Incumbent State Comptroller Susana Mendoza ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination, as did her Republican opponent Darlene Senger.

This year’s statewide executive contests in Illinois were also noteworthy for the number of women of color on primary ballots; 7 of 10 women candidates, including all 6 Democrats, were women of color. Of these 7 women of color candidates running statewide, 4 won their party’s nomination. The previous high for the number of women of color nominees for statewide executive offices from any one state is 5, reached in New Mexico in 2006, and again in Georgia and New Mexico in 2014.

State Legislature

All but one woman candidate for the Illinois state senate won nomination on Tuesday, and nearly three-quarters of women candidates for the Illinois state house were successful. 

State Senate

17 (13D, 4R) women currently serve in the Illinois state senate, holding 28.8% of the Senate’s 59 seats. 8 women senators were not up for re-election this year and 1 woman senator is retiring.

19 (14D, 5R) women will be candidates for the Illinois state senate this fall, including 8 (5D, 3R) incumbents, 6 (6D) challengers, and 5 (3D, 2R) women running for open seats. All but one woman primary candidate, a Democrat challenging the incumbent of her own party, was successful in the primary election.

State House

46 (34D, 12R) women currently serve in the Illinois state house, holding 39% of the House’s 118 seats. All House seats are up for election this year.

75 (52D, 23R) women won major party nominations for the Illinois state house. 36 (28D, 8R) women incumbents are nominees for re-election, 25 (15D, 10R) will run as challengers, and 14 (9D, 4R) will run for open seats this November. Nearly three-quarters (74.3%) of the 101 women primary candidates for state house nominations were successful on Tuesday.