SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Candidates across the state took their first official step onto the 2024 campaign trail this week.
Petitions started circulating to get on the primary ballots.
“A lot of voters now, you’re going to have the candidates or potential candidates coming to your door, asking for your signature on their on their nominating petitions,” said Matt Dietrich, Public Information Officer for the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Candidates need to get a certain number of signatures, depending on what office they’re running for, before Dec. 4 so they can make it on the primary election ballot. Both parties have been strategizing for this election since the last one ended, and both have their priorities.
“The legislative leaders will focus on, and try to be involved, more or less, in the recruitment to make sure they’ve got strong candidates,” said UIS Professor Emeritus Kent Redfield.
Republicans are looking to pull back some power by chipping away at the Democrats’ supermajority control.
“It’s an opportunity to get our message across and to work in the suburbs,” said Illinois GOP Chairman Don Tracy. “They’ve been going the wrong way, and we’ve got to do a better job with the suburbs and our message should resonate there.”
That message did not yield positive results for Republicans in 2022. The party lost more ground in the suburbs and failed to make any dents in the Democratic supermajorities in both chambers. But Tracy said the messaging isn’t the problem.
“I don’t know that our messaging has changed that much, but it’s gotten stronger because Democrats become too radical,” Tracy said.
Democrats, meanwhile, are eyeing some vulnerable seats, and looking to play defense.
“First and foremost, we’re going to be out there working very, very hard for Nikki Budzinski to make sure that she’s returned to D.C.,” said Bill Houlihan, Sangamon County Democratic Party Chair. “We have Sue Scherer, we have the 95th seat up, where there’s interest from people that have sought us out.”
The 95th district is currently held by Republican Mike Coffey. He was appointed to the seat after former House Republican Tim Butler stepped down.
The campaign calendar is going back to normal after an odd 2022. With the state redrawing all of the maps, the primary got pushed to June in 2022. The primary election in 2024 will be March 19.
“We’re back on the March 19 schedule, early voting starts on Feb. 8,” Dietrich said. “So, you know, truly coming up on us here.”