SPRINGFIELD — Almost all of the candidates who had been expected to file for state legislative seats this fall did so on Monday, the first day to submit petitions with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
In East Central Illinois districts, the only announced candidates who did not file were 52nd Senate District hopeful John Bambenek and 103rd House District contender Rob Meister, both Champaign Republicans.
Both said Monday they still intend to run in the March 20 primary election and will file their petitions later this week.
Meister, who likely will be the only Republican candidate to challenge state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson in the 103rd House District, said he'll probably file "in the next couple of days."
"We sat down and counted out all of our signatures and some people who don't know any better and who live outside of the district, you have to cross those out and go get some more." Meister said. "Some people just don't know any better. You'll be at an event and someone will be excited and will sign and then you find out they live outside of the district and you have to tell them that we can't count it."
Jakobsson filed her nominating petitions at 8 a.m. Monday.
Bambenek said he's in as well.
"I have no intention not to be a candidate. Short of falling over dead, I intend to file," said Bambenek, who will oppose Champaign County Board member Alan Nudo in the 52nd Senate District. "I plan to still collect (signatures on petitions). I'm always looking for more. I'm anticipating a challenge so I'm using whatever time I have left to get signatures regardless. I could have filed this morning if I wanted to."
Bambenek said he's not sure when he'll file.
"Al (Nudo) has a job that allows him quite liberal use of work hours. I do not, so I have to work it around my work schedule when I can take a half-day to go file in Springfield. But it will get done. I'm not a big believer that you have to be in the top ballot position. I never intended to file first anyway," he said.
Nudo's petitions included 1,900 signatures, he said.
"It was mostly done by me," he said. "I think I got about 80 percent of them."
Both Bambenek and Nudo hope to unseat incumbent Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, who filed his nominating petitions at 8 a.m. Monday.
But two other local Republican primary races are assured after state Rep. Chapin Rose of Mahomet and Tom Pliura of rural Ellsworth filed in the 51st Senate District, and state Rep. Jason Barickman of Champaign and state Sen. Shane Cultra of Onarga filed in the 53rd Senate District.
All four filed at 8 a.m. Monday.
So far there are no Democratic candidates in any of the area House districts, except for Jakobsson in the 103rd. But there are several Republican contenders, including primary races in three districts.
Three GOP candidates filed Monday in the new 106th District that includes all or parts of Ford, Iroquois, Livingston, Vermilion and Woodford counties. They are Tom Bennett of Gibson City, Josh Harms of Watseka and Scott McCoy of Pontiac.
In the 102nd District, which includes all or parts of Champaign, Vermilion, Douglas, Moultrie, Edgar, Shelby and Macon counties, state Rep. Adam Brown, R-Decatur, is being challenged by Robert "Rob" Roman of Chrisman. Both filed at 8 a.m. Monday.
And Rep. Roger Edyy, R-Hutsonville, is being challenged by Kevin Gardner of Toledo in the 110th District.
Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, is the only candidate to file in the 101st District, which includes all or parts of Champaign, Piatt, DeWitt, Macon and McLean counties.
Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, is the only candidate to file in the 104th District that includes Vermilion and Champaign counties.