It's up to you, the voters
Both political parties have competitive races in Tuesday's Illinois primary.
A lot has been said so far this election season, mostly by those running for office. Come Tuesday, what matters most is not what is said, but what is done — and that's voting.
And that's where you come in. The way you vote on Tuesday may well determine which direction our communities, state and nation take over the next few years.
Some people might dispute that, since this is a primary election and not the general one (Nov. 4 this year). But in some counties and districts, the primary is essentially the election. Take, for example, Ford County. On the Republican ballot, there are contested races for sheriff and resident judge. Those who win Tuesday are virtually assured victory in November, because Democrats rarely run in Ford County — and only one local Democrat has been elected there since the 1930s.
In Champaign-Urbana, Democrats have fared well in recent elections. Therefore, whoever wins the Democratic race for the open seat in the 103rd Illinois House District will be the likely frontrunner in the fall.
Both Democrats and Republicans have very spirited races in the 13th Congressional District, which includes Champaign, Urbana, Savoy and Piatt County. Given the nearly even political split in the 13th District, the fall election is expected to be as competitive as the primaries.
At the top of the ballot for Republicans, there's a four-way race to be the party's candidate for the governor. The GOP has not controlled the executive branch since January 2003, when the now-disgraced George Ryan left office, so this race is especially important to Republicans. And Republican voters will also be deciding who their candidates will be for U.S. senator and state treasurer.
Democrats have even more decisions to make. Besides the aforementioned faces for U.S. and Illinois House, local voters will making their choices in four Champaign County Board districts.
Independents also have reasons to vote Tuesday. Because of Illinois' open primary, voters declare their party of choice at their polling place. Therefore, someone who took a Republican ballot in the past is free to cast a Democratic ballot this year, and vice versa.
And in some communities — such as Tolono, Rantoul, Homer and Ogden — voters can choose a nonpartisan ballot in order to cast their votes on various referendums.
For those who have not decided whom to vote for, The News-Gazette has reported extensively on local candidates in recent weeks. You can find those stories at http://www.news-gazette.com/tag/2014-election.
Here are the candidates that we have endorsed for this primary:
Illinois governor, Republican: Bruce Rauner. In our March 16 editorial, we said Rauner "wants to destroy the failed status quo in state government. In our view, that's Job One if Illinois ever is to put itself on the right track."
13th Congressional District, Democrat: George Gollin. We said of Gollin on March 14 that "he has the intelligence to understand complex issues. ... It would be our expectation that Gollin would pursue practical solutions to serious problems rather than fall back on liberal orthodoxy."
13th Congressional District, Republican: Erika Harold. Our editorial on March 13 said, "Harold's views, while conservative, are not hidebound. But unlike many Republicans, she possesses the ability to make her case to people who have not traditionally supported conservative positions."
103rd Illinois House, Democrat: Sam Rosenberg. "It's our view that he shows great promise," we said of the 29-year-old political newcomer on March 12, "and he could become an important factor in Springfield once he gets some experience under his belt. A former assistant state's attorney and now a lawyer with a prominent Champaign firm, Rosenberg has demonstrated that he's a quick learner and a high achiever."