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There's a lot more at stake than the presidential nomination in tomorrow's Illinois Primary

Written by
Clayton Guse

The 2016 Illinois primary election takes place on Tuesday, and while a vast majority of the spotlight surrounding the contest in Chicago has circled around the races for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations (especially after Friday's called-off rally for Republican frontrunner Donald Trump), there is a lot more at stake at the polls. Several elections are on the line in Cook County and could have a major effect on not only Illinois, but the entire country. 

Democratic Senate nomination 

President Barack Obama's old Senate seat is currently being held by Republican Mark Kirk, who won the position in the 2010 midterm election a little more than a year after now-incarcerated former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich shoved Roland Burris into the then-vacant spot amid corruption rumors. A strong showing from the Democrats in November could be enough to bring that seat back to the left side of the aisle, and blue voters on Tuesday will choose their nominee for that seat. Illinois 8th district Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth is the clear frontrunner in the race, according to a poll from the Tribune. Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs as a result of combat wounds. State Senator Napoleon Harris and former Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp are also on the ticket.

Cook County State's Attorney seat up for grabs 

The Democratic nomination for the Cook County State's Attorney seat might as well be a general election (a Republican mustering enough votes to take that seat would be almost unthinkable). Anita Alvarez currently holds the position but is facing a whole mess of fallout following the office's handling of last November's release of the police dash cam video showing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot and killed by police in October 2014. Kim Foxx, the current Chief of Staff for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and former Assistant State's Attorney, recently received endorsements from both the Sun-Times and the Tribune, and is poised to give Alvarez a run for her money. If Alvarez is ousted, it could make huge waves in the Democratic establishment in Cook County. 

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is getting some stiff competition

Michael Madigan is a key operator of the Illinois democratic machine (he's been a member of the Illinois House since 1971 and his daughter, Lisa Madigan, has been the Illinois Attorney General since 2003), but this year he's facing a strong opponent for his seat in Jason Gonzales. Madigan represents the state's 22nd district in the House, which is on the southwest side in a largely Latino area. Considering that Illinois has been without a budget since June (in part due to Madigan and company's failure to compromise with Republican Governor Bruce Rauner), this race could come down to the wire.  

Willie Wilson is also on the ballot

Donald Trump isn't the only businessman without political experience in this year's presidential primary—there's also Willie Wilson. The comparisons between the two end there, but Wilson's name on the ballot ought to make some Chicagoans turn their heads. Wilson garnered 10 percent of the vote in last year's general mayoral election, which was enough to help Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia force a runoff against Mayor Rahm Emanuel. His chances of winning the Democratic presidential nomination are about the same as a dancing penguin named "Hoppy" being hired as a CTA operator, but it is worth noting that a Chicagoan is (technically) in the presidential race. 

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