Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (5/13)

May 13, 2022

Public Health

  • Illinois Cases Likely to Continue Climbing, Officials Urge Caution: “In the last week alone, COVID cases in the state of Illinois have gone up by more than 40%, while hospitalizations have also begun a slow increase, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health. ‘If you look at our rates, (and) if you look, for example, at the CDC maps, we are right up there with the east coast, ’ Dr. Sharon Welbel of Cook County Health says. ” NBC Chicago has more here.
  • Preckwinkle taps new leader for Cook County ’s Department of Public Health :  “Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck has been chosen to take over the suburban public health department after two years of split interim leadership, ” by Crain ’s Chicago Business.



New poll shows GOP candidate Richard Irvin narrowly leading primary field, Darren Bailey in second

A new WGN-TV/The Hill/Emerson College Polling survey of 1,000 likely GOP voters shows Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin leading the Republican field with 24.1% support, followed by state Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) with 19.8%. Suburban businessman Gary Rabine is in third place with 7.8%, closely followed by venture capitalist Jessie Sullivan with 7.3%.

Notably, a large block of voters is still undecided: approximately 36.9% of respondents say they haven ’t yet selected Illinois ’ Republican standard bearer.

Some key findings:

  • The race might be more competitive than initially expected: Despite his massive $45 million war chest (courtesy of Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin), Richard Irvin is only leading downstate conservative Darren Bailey by about four percentage points. Irvin has 24.1% of the vote, just ahead of Bailey ’s 19.8% — a narrow lead that should trouble Irvin ’s camp, given that the Aurora mayor holds a staggering cash advantage over Bailey. As Politico reports, “Irvin has spent $12.2 million on TV ads, while Bailey has spent about $1 million. In Chicago, Irvin has spent more than 40 times as much on TV as Bailey, according to a source familiar with the numbers. ”
  • Trump could play kingmaker: The poll showed that 57% of primary voters would be more likely to vote for a candidate who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Of that 57% majority, 34% were undecided voters – meaning if a candidate lacks the funds to carry out a statewide advertising blitz, Trump ’s support could be critical to locking down the GOP base in Illinois.
  • This is clearly Darren Bailey ’s strategy: Bailey has fought to secure Trump ’s endorsement for some time. He recently attended a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser for US Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL), has plastered photos he ’s taken with Trump on all of his social media feeds, and often touts his role as a 2020 Trump delegate. For his part, Irvin has tried to paint Bailey as a RINO, sending out mailers titled “Bailey breaks with Trump ” and featuring pictures of the state senator next to photos of former President Barack Obama and current President Joe Biden.
  • The economy, not crime, is Republicans ’ top Illinois issue: The poll shows 54% of would-be Republican voters cite the economy as the all-important issue. Crime comes in a distant second (15.2%), while immigration (6.5%), COVID-19 (4.3%), education (3.6), health care (4.7%) and the war in Ukraine (2.0%) fall even further down the list.  \
  • This could prompt Irvin ’s campaign to reassess its messaging strategy: The Aurora mayor has sought to position himself as the only leader capable of addressing crime and fighting corruption. It ’s worked: When asked which candidate “is best suited to tackle crime in Illinois, ” he ’s ahead of Bailey overall 30-20 with on the issue, including 32-20 with whites, the largest plank of the Republican base. But Irvin isn ’t beating Bailey on the GOP ’s most important issue, and that ’s a problem for his team. Bailey has a narrow lead (22-21) on the economy, besting Irvin by 8 points (25-15) outside metro Chicago and also among women (19-17).
  • Illinois ’ urban and rural Republicans are divided: Another major finding is the division of support among voters in urban and rural Illinois. Richard Irvin holds a sizable advantage over Bailey in urban/city areas, 32% to 10%. But in rural regions, Bailey beats Irvin 30% to 16%. Suburban voters are split more evenly — Irvin has a slight edge at 25%, with Bailey clocking in at a close 20%.

Early voting is slated to start May 19. The primary is set for June 28.


Around the State



Illinois state Rep. Kam Buckner to run for mayor of Chicago

State Rep. Kambium “Kam ” Buckner announced he will run for mayor, hoping to oust Mayor Lori Lightfoot next year.

Buckner, who was appointed to the House in 2019 and won a full term in 2020 after running unopposed, serves as chair of the House Black Caucus. His 26th state House district spans the Gold Coast and Southeast Side of Chicago, which Buckner characterizes as “the most diverse district in the state from socioeconomic and demographic standpoint. ”

He progressive campaign platform will emphasize investments in public safety, public education, equitable economic development, and sustainable budgeting. In the state legislature, Buckner was a prime mover on legislation to overhaul the state ’s criminal justice system, pushed for an elected CPS board, and co-sponsored the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act.

Lightfoot has yet to formally announce her reelection, but Buckner is joining what is expected to become a crowded field featuring Ald.  Ray Lopez, 15th, and businessman  Willie Wilson.

Candidates must declare their intent by the November deadline to file their petition paperwork. The election will be held on Feb. 28, 2023.


More from City Hall

  • Plan for temporary casino at landmark Medinah Temple draws its own opposition :  “It ’s located in a zone that prohibits additional liquor licenses. In explaining the proposed exception for casinos, Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar said it would be “consistent ” with other establishments like sports stadiums such as Wrigley Field, ” by the Chicago Tribune.
  • Chosen casino developer lays out his cards — but wary residents would rather Bally ’s folds its hand :  “Soo Kim, CEO of Bally ’s Corp., joked that after gaining Mayor Lori Lightfoot ’s backing to build a casino at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street, ‘it would be easier for me to be hiding in some dark, smoky room. I ’m here in person telling you that we ’re going to keep our promises, ’” the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
  • Aldermen, advocates laud Lightfoot ’s new climate goals but question city ’s ability to hold itself accountable: “Lightfoot last month unveiled a draft of the city ’s new Climate Action Plan meant to guide the city in reducing emissions by 62 percent by 2040. The  87-page document, the city ’s first updated climate plan since  Mayor Richard M. Daley ’s administration published the last one in 2008, plans to reduce emissions through strategies including retrofitting buildings, electrifying the city ’s vehicle fleet, diverting waste through a long-promised compost program and expanding the city ’s bike lane network. [ …] But while people in the advocacy world acknowledge the goals set by the Climate Action Plan are admirable, some question how the city will adhere to reaching the benchmarks it ’s set for itself over the next 20 years, especially without a city department dedicated to the environment. ” From The Daily Line.
  • Park District Board appoints Rosa Escareño as permanent CEO :  She ’s been interim general superintendent and CEO since October, “following the departure of Mike Kelly over his handling of allegations of sexual misconduct among some of the agency ’s lifeguards, ” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

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