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Primary Preview: Illinois And Florida

February 2, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Election season kicks off today in two states. In Illinois, a number of primary elections will be held statewide, while candidates in Florida will compete for the chance to fill the seat of retired House Democrat Rep. Robert Wexler [D, FL-19].

Two primary elections loom the largest in the Land of Lincoln: races for governor and for the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Roland Burris [D, IL] and once held by president Barack Obama. Burris, who was appointed to the seat after Obama resigned, is choosing not to run.

In the gubernatorial primary, current Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is hoping to survive a bruising primary challenge from fellow Democrat and current Comptroller Dan Hynes. Quinn, a former lieutenant governor, ascended to the governor’s mansion last year after former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached. This race, which polls show to be a toss-up, has become increasingly ugly in its final days.

For the Republicans, a number of prominent politicians are fighting it out including state senators Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, former state GOP chair Andy McKenna and former Attorney General Jim Ryan. A wild card is this race is wealthy businessman Adam Andrzejewski. Andrzejewski is a new darling of the tea party crowd and has recently gotten positive attention from conservative heavyweights like Rush Limbaugh.

The race for Obama’s Senate seat is just as crowded. Democrats running today include State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman and Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson. Giannoulias has lead the polls, but Hoffman’s numbers have been rising in recent days.

Despite the sound and fury surrounding the Republican race to take Obama’s seat, noted moderate Rep. Mark Kirk [R, IL-10] looks poised to beat out tea party favorite Patrick Hughes and professional candidate Andy Martin, among others.

With Kirk hoping to join the Senate, his House seat is up for grabs. State Rep. Julie Hamos and businessman Dan Seals are fighting for the Democratic nomination while moderate state Rep. Elizabeth Coulson and businessmen Bob Dold and Dick green fight for the GOP nomination.

Other primaries today include races for lieutenant governor, treasurer, comptroller and for seats currently held by Rep. Melissa Bean [D, IL-8], Rep. Debbie Halvorson [D, IL-11], Rep. Judy Biggert [D, IL-13] and Rep. Bill Foster [D, IL-14].

Unlike Illinois, the Sunshine State will host only one race today.

Last December, Rep. Wexler resigned his seat to head the Center for Middle East Peace – a Mideast think tank. Today candidates are vying for the opportunity to win his seat in November.

On the Democratic side, the primary has boiled down to a race between state Sen. Ted Deutch and former Broward County Commissioner Ben Graber. Deutch is a favorite in the race having obtained the endorsement of Wexler, former President Bill Clinton and other Florida Democrats such as Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz [D, FL-20] and Rep. Alcee Hastings [D, FL-23].

Republicans looking to represent this heavily Democratic district include contractor Ed Lynch and businessman and former police officer Kurt Price.

For a full list of who’s running and for information on other races happening this year, check out the RaceTracker feature at the OpenCongress Wiki.

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