Incumbents rule in Congressional races

By Kevin Beese, Bill Dwyer and Jack McCarthy Chronicle Media

Democrats are expected to continue to dominate the Illinois delegation in the U.S. House. The party currently has a 14-3 advantage over Republicans.

It was a very good day for incumbents as Illinois voters selected nominees for Congress in the March 19 primary.

Nearly all of the state’s 17 current representatives easily secured renominations in their respective parties while one had a close race. All move on to November’s general election.

In a campaign that drew national attention, downstate Rep. Mike Bost, R-12th, beat former GOP gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey by fewer than 2,500 votes in a race that included an endorsement of Bost by former President Donald Trump.

Two primaries involving Chicago Democrats were originally seen as potentially tight. But Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-4th, easily turned back a challenge from Chicago Ald. Raymond Lopez while Rep. Danny Davis, D-7th, topped two challengers to earn nomination for a 15th term.

November’s general election is unlikely to shift party dominance as Democrats now hold 14 seats and Republicans have just three.

Here’s a rundown of primary results from each district and lineups for the fall:

4th District

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia

Incumbent Jesus “Chuy” Garcia earned 69 percent of the 41,535 votes cast in the 4th Congressional District’s Democratic Primary.

Garcia turned back a challenge from Chicago alderman Raymond Lopez.

“We did it, thank you for your support,” Garcia said in a tweet on X. “Over 50 endorsements from labor unions and advocacy organizations for my reelection to Congress — we couldn’t have done it without you!”

No candidate filed for the Republican primary.

Even if a Republican candidate does emerge, he or she would have a tough road in the district which multiple pundits have classified as a “solid Democratic” district.

7th District

Danny Davis

Incumbent Danny Davis beat four challengers to earn the Democratic nomination in the 7th Congressional District.

Davis earned more votes than the four other candidates combined. The incumbent received 53 percent of 73,618 votes cast in the 7th Congressional Democratic Primary.

Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin earned 22 percent of the vote. Kina Collins, in her third primary bid against Davis, earned 17 percent of the vote. Challengers Nikhil Bhatia and Kouri Marshall earned 5 percent and 3 percent of the vote, respectively.

“My congressional record speaks for itself, and my ability to build coalitions locally, nationally and across the aisles in Congress is transparent,” Davis said on his campaign website.

Davis, who has been representative of the 7th Congressional District since 1997, will face Republican Chad Koppie, who ran unopposed in the General Election.

Koppie, who has been a jet captain, farmer, township trustee, school board member and member of the Kane County Regional Board of Schools, ran a write-in campaign against Davis as an independent in the 2022 General Election, netting 83 votes.

1st District

Marcus Lewis, a Pentecostal minister and former U.S. Postal Service employee, earned 77 percent of the 4,410 votes cast in the Republican Primary in the 1st Congressional District.

Lewis topped Montelle Gaji in the primary.

He said securing the Southern border should be priority No. 1 for federal lawmakers.

“Our district is being overrun by the tens of thousands of illegal aliens that we don’t know who these people are or why they are sent to invade our district while the current rep,  Jonathan Jackson, stands idly by, exhibiting no opposition, while hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on supporting these illegals to live in comfort here, all paid for by us, the taxpayers,” he said.

Lewis will face incumbent Jonathan Jackson, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

2nd District

Incumbent Robin Kelly will face Republican challenger, Ashley Ramos, in the General Election.

Both women ran unopposed in their respective primaries.

Ramos, a Clifton resident, is an e-commerce specialist.

Kelly, a Democrat, has held the post since 2013. She was chief administrative officer for Cook County and a state representative.

3rd District

Incumbent Delia Ramirez will face Republican challenger John Booras in the General Election.

Both candidates ran unopposed in their respective primaries.

Booras is an attorney and former police officer.

Ramirez, a Democrat, has been a social services administrator, community organizer and policy advocate.

5th District

Tom Hanson won in the 5th Congressional District’s Republican Primary, turning back a write-in-campaign from Frank Rowder.

Rowder’s vote total was unavailable of a press time, but election officials were confident that Hanson, with 18,083 votes, had won the race.

Rowder, a small-business owner, will face incumbent Mike Quigley in the General Election.

Quigley was unopposed in the 5th Congressional District Democratic Primary, after three challengers, Jerico Matias Cruz, Jonathan Bishop, and Dan Woznicka, either dropped out or were bumped from the ballot due to election petition issues.

6th District

Incumbent Sean Casten cruised to victory, getting 77 percent of the 71,654 votes cast in the 6th Congressional District Democratic Primary.

Challengers Mahnoor Ahmad and Charles Hughes received 15 percent and 9 percent of the vote, respectively.

Casten was appreciative of the support he received.

“Thank you to the voters who have entrusted me once again with their vote,” the Downers Grove resident said. “Thank you to the volunteers who knocked on doors, made phone calls, and helped get out the vote; and thank you to my wife, Kara, and daughter, Audrey, for all of their sacrifices.

“As we turn to the general election, we must remind ourselves what is at stake. I’m running for reelection to defend women’s reproductive rights, protect American democracy, end gun violence, and combat the climate crisis. Those are values that are shared throughout the 6th District but opposed by the far-right efforts that want to take this seat. I’m confident that, as they have time and again, voters will side with decency, humanity, science, and democracy.

“More than anything else, thank you to all who participated in this election. You are the reason the American experiment works.”

Casten will face Chicago resident Niki Conforti in the General Election. Conforti, a businesswoman who has worked in energy consulting, health care, and staffing, ran unopposed in the Republican Primary.

8th District

Incumbent Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi had no opposition on the March 19 primary ballot and in November will face a Republican opponent — Mark Rice — who describes himself as a political outsider.

Krishnamoorthi, a Schaumburg Democrat and attorney, is anything but. He’s been involved in Illinois politics and policy since 2000 when he joined Barack Obama’s campaign for the U.S.

House and later for his U.S. Senate campaign. He also served in a series of state government positions.

After a narrow loss for state comptroller (2010) and a primary defeat at the hands of then-Rep. Tammy Duckworth for Congress (2012) Krishnamoorthi succeeded Duckworth in the House when he won the first of four consecutive terms in 2016.

The 8th District covers portions of the west and northwest suburbs and a small slice of Chicago.

In the 2022 general election, he beat Republican Chris Dargis by nearly 14 percentage points.

9th District

Jan Schakowsky ran unopposed in the 9th Congressional District Democratic Primary after a potential challenger, Michael Donahue, was bumped from the ballot because of election petition issues.

Schakowsky, who has been the 9th District’s congresswoman since 1999, will face Republican challenger, Michael Walters, who ran a write-in campaign for the Republican nomination, in the General Election.

10th District

Rep. Brad Schneider is a progressive Democrat who has also been praised for seeking bipartisan solutions to problems as well as his work to ban assault weapons in the wake of the 2022 mass shooting in Highland Park

Schneider, who was unopposed in the March 19 Democratic primary, currently serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

He represents a district that hugs Lake Michigan from Evanston to the Wisconsin state line and extends northwest into McHenry County.

Schneider was first elected in 2012, lost a reelection bid two years later and bounced back to win four consecutive terms, including a decisive, 26-point victory in 2022.

He’ll face Jim Carris, unopposed in the Republican primary, plus two independents in the November general election. 

11th District

Incumbent Bill Foster scored an overwhelming win over challenger Qasim Rashid in the 17th District Democratic primary.

Foster, who tallied 77 percent, garnered no less than 69 percent of the vote in each of the 17th’s eight counties, outpolling Rashid 33,296 to 9,972.

Rashid, 41, an immigration attorney, had campaigned as a progressive and new voice for the district, bringing fresh eyes and fresh ideas to Congress. He attacked Foster as “out of touch” with district voters.

But Foster, 68, dismissed Rashid as someone not strong enough to win a potentially vulnerable Congressional seat, saying, “You only make progress (on issues) if you can win elections against MAGA Republicans.”

Foster will face Jerry Evans, 40, of Warrenville, a local DuPage GOP precinct committeeman, in the general election.

Musician and music school owner Evans dominated a three-candidate GOP primary field.

Evans, of Warrenville, won all eight counties in the 11th District, outpolling his nearest opponent, Susan Hathaway-Altman, 17,504 to 12,753. Kent O. Mercado finished third with 4,184 votes.

Evans acknowledged during his 2022 primary campaign that there is a place for federal programs, and “I want everyone to know that when the cogs of the federal bureaucracy get stuck, my office will be there to get them working again.”

12th District

The Illinois 12th Congressional district is arguably the most conservative district in the state. And five-term Rep. Mike Bost is one of the most conservative representatives in Congress.

But Darrin Bailey thought Bost wasn’t conservative enough for the 12th District, and he was nearly proven right March 19, easily winning two of the six counties in the district. But with 95 percent of votes in, the Associated Press named Bost the winner, with 51.4 percent and a surprisingly slim 2,587-vote lead out of more than 94,000 cast.

The endorsement by former president Donald Trump was likely the difference for Bost, who thanked him in his victory speech. He also urged Republicans to “unite and work together.”

“I think hopefully the party will take notice that we’re not going to take this sellout attitude.” Bailey said in his concession speech, continuing his theme that Bost and other Republicans were too willing to compromise on conservative principles,

Bost, who won his last general election by 50 points, will face attorney Brian Roberts, who easily defeated Preston Nelson in the Democratic primary.

13th District

Joshua Loyd won a decisive victory over Thomas Clatterback in the 13th Congressional District Republican primary last week.

Loyd, a precinct committeeman from Virden in Jackson County, won nearly 56 percent of the vote, topping Clatterback 15,209 to 11,978.

Clatterbuck, a third-year law school student from Champaign, had campaigned on America being “faced with a historical moment” regarding technological innovation. Meanwhile, Loyd’s campaign was apparently looking past the primary: his website bannered “November 05, 2024: Vote Joshua Loyd.”

Asked in a candidate questionnaire, “Do you believe that it’s beneficial for representatives to have previous experience in government or politics?” Loyd answered “No.”

Whether or not experience counts with district voters will be determined in the November general election, when they choose between Loyd and freshman congressman Nikki Budzinski.

14th District

Kendall County GOP Chairman James Marter, who twice before ran in the GOP 14th District primaries, crushed Republican primary opponent Charlie Kim by a nearly 4-to-1 margin March 19, taking 79.1 percent of the vote.

Marter, of Oswego, says he is pro-life, supports Second Amendment rights, and wants to see the Affordable Care Act repealed. During a Chicago Tribune endorsement interview he refused to say whether he believed President Joe Biden had won the 2020 election, prompting the Tribune to decline to make an endorsement.

Marter, who has also said that American values are “under assault,” will face incumbent 14th District Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood in the general election. He contends that Underwood’s voting history is responsible for the country’s economic inflation and “massive federal debt.”


15th District

Compared to two years ago, Republican Rep. Mary Miller had a much easier time securing renomination this time around.

In 2022, Miller was locked in a battle for survival with fellow Rep. Rodney Davis when both landed in the same district, following redistricting. Miller prevailed with 57.4 percent of the GOP vote.

On March 19, Miller was unopposed as she won renomination for a third term in Washington D.C. representing the sprawling district considered overwhelmingly Republican by political analysts. She’s a member of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Miller is also unopposed in November’s election. In 2022 she defeated Democrat Paul Lange with 72 percent of the vote.


16th District

Republican Rep. Darin LaHood has served in Congress since winning an 18th District special election in 2015.

LaHood was redistricted into the 16th District, following the 2020 Census along with fellow Rep. Adam Kinzinger. But they never faced each other in a 2022 primary as Kinzinger opted not to run for reelection.

A Peoria native and self-described fiscal conservative, LaHood represents a district running from central Illinois north to the Wisconsin state line. His father, Ray, was a seven-term U.S. representative and later served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

LaHood was unopposed in the March 19 Republican primary and has no Democratic opponent in November.

In 2022 he easily topped a four-candidate GOP primary field and then collected 66 percent of the vote in a general election victory over Democrat Elizabeth Haderlein.


17th District

During his primary candidacy for the Republican 17th District nomination, Scott Crowl told GOP voters “It’s gonna take a farmer.”

On March 19, Republican primary voters saw things quite differently, giving retired Rockford jurist Joe McGraw 67.6 percent of the vote.

In beating Crowl 19,967 to 9,567, McGraw swept all 14 counties in the sprawling, arcing 17th Congressional district, winning at least 61 percent in each county, including 80 percent in his home county of Winnebago.

McGraw will now face incumbent Democrat Eric Sorensen in a general election battle that is widely expected to attract both national attention and many millions of dollars in outside political contributions on both sides.