Tom Kacich: 102nd GOP primary headed for big spending

Tom Kacich: 102nd GOP primary headed for big spending

When I wrote in November that the candidates in the Republican primary in the 102nd House District might need a six-figure campaign fund, there was some skepticism.

But two of the three contenders already have blown past that level, and there's a chance the cumulative spending in the largely rural district will exceed half a million dollars.

That would make it one of the most expensive local primary races in East Central Illinois history, surpassing the $220,000 spent two years ago in the Democratic primary in the 103rd District, featuring Carol Ammons and Sam Rosenberg.

The most expensive legislative race locally was the 2012 Republican Party primary in the 51st Senate District between Chapin Rose and Tom Pliura. Combined the two candidates spent more than $500,000.

The 102nd District race already is up to more than $335,000 in funds raised either by or on behalf of the candidates — Jim Acklin of Ogden, Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville and Randy Peterson of Paris.

Halbrook, who is backed by Gov. Bruce Rauner and has the money to show it, is tops with more than $190,000 raised. Among his donations: $10,800 from the governor and his wife; $53,000 from Citizens for Rauner, Inc.; and about $86,000 from the Liberty Principles PAC, which is funded by Rauner and his allies.

Rauner's not only shaking up Springfield, he's shaking up the way to get to Springfield.

Meanwhile, Peterson last week reported another $15,000 into his campaign fund from the campaign fund of retiring Rep. Adam Brown, R-Champaign. Brown is almost singlehandedly subsidizing Peterson's campaign; $40,000 of the $40,450 in contributions to Peterson's campaign have come from Brown, who currently represents the 102nd District.

Acklin, the third candidate in the race last week reported $69,000 in new contributions, including $50,000 from the Illinois Education Association and $15,000 from the Associated Firefighters of Illinois. He also got $2,000 from the State Universities Annuitants Association.

Acklin's fundraising total is up to almost $105,000.

And there's two weeks to go before Election Day.

Ethan Vandersand sighting

Ethan Vandersand, the rural Carrollton pharmacist who is challenging U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis in the 13th Congressional District Republican primary, has finally reported some campaign activity.

He didn't get to the Champaign County Republican Party Lincoln Day dinner last week, but Vandersand has reported $20,101 in campaign contributions and $2,597 in expenditures.

He's received a single $500 campaign contribution from the Family PAC fund. The rest of his campaign receipts are from his own pocket, including a $16,000 contribution made last Wednesday.

Candidate forum Monday

The Douglas County Republican Women will host a candidate forum at 7 p.m. Monday at the Smith House event center in Tuscola, 400 S. Main St.

All three candidates in the 102nd House District race (Acklin, Halbrook and Peterson) are expected to participate, as well as 15th Congressional District challenger Kyle McCarter. His opponent, Rep. John Shimkus is expected to be represented by a staff member.

The event is open to the public, according to Laura Henry, president of the group.

Prussing for Bernie

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing said she spoke to about 7,000 people last week at a rally in Chicago for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

"That's the biggest crowd I've ever spoken to," she said of the rally at Chicago State University. "There was such a roar from that crowd. It was just huge."

Presidential poll

A recent presidential preference primary poll of Illinois, conducted by We Ask America and reported by Capitol Fax, gave Hillary Clinton a 57 percent to 28 percent statewide lead over Sanders, and a slightly bigger lead (58-24) downstate. Clinton's best numbers were among women (64 percent) and African Americans (69 percent). There was no demographic breakdown by age.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump had 38 percent statewide to 21 percent for Marco Rubio, 16 percent for Ted Cruz and 9 percent for John Kasich. Downstate Republicans gave slightly more support to Cruz and slightly less to Kasich.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette reporter and columnist. His column appears on Sundays and Wednesdays. He can be reached at 217-351-5221 or at

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