CHICAGO (CBS) — The polls have opened for the state’s primary elections; and, if early voting is any indication, there will be plenty of people at the polls on Tuesday.
Polls opened at 6 a.m., and will stay open until 7 p.m. across the state.
With heated competitions on both sides of the aisle in the race for governor, and a crowded race for Illinois attorney general after Lisa Madigan decided not to seek another term, interest in the primaries is high and early voting records have been falling across the state.
According to Chicago and Cook County election officials, more than 200,000 people voted early in the city and suburbs. That’s a record. About 80 percent of early voters pulled Democratic ballots.
Meantime, in the Republican stronghold of DuPage County, nearly 16,000 people have voted early.
Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife cast their ballots Tuesday morning in Winnetka. Several Democrats are vying for the governor’s office, but first Rauner must survive a surprisingly strong challenge from his own right flank, as conservative Illinois State Rep. Jeanne Ives has pilloried his record over the past three years.
“Changing our system is hard, but Evelyn Sanguinetti and I are working hard to reduce our tax burden, grow more good-paying jobs, and end the corruption in our government with term limits,” he said.
Ives was scheduled to vote Tuesday afternoon in Wheaton. She has said Rauner is a Republican in name only, who has betrayed true conservatives on issues like abortion. Rauner disagrees, but he admitted transition from corporate America to the political arena has been tough.
“It’s been very difficult, very challenging, very stressful; but we’ve got to stay strong. There’s so much more work to be done so we can reduce our taxes and grow more jobs, and we’re going to stay persistent,” Rauner said.
In the Democratic race for governor, the three frontrunners stumped for last-minute votes on Monday.
Billionaire J.B. Pritzker was out early Tuesday, greeting potential supporters at Manny’s Deli. The hotel magnate turned candidate for governor was joined by his running mate, Illinois State Rep. Julianna Stratton, and several other politicians in his corner.
In Kenilworth, Chris Kennedy, the son of murdered U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, voted at his village’s assembly hall. Despite being dramatically outspent by Pritzker, Kennedy said his campaign is surging at the right time.
“Today is the day that we come together to try to make change in our state,” he said.
In Evanston, the man who has billed himself as the middle class candidate voted as his son looked on. Illinois State Sen. Daniel Biss said his well-heeled challengers are trying to buy the election. He said a Biss victory would show political posts in Illinois can’t be bought.
Other races on the ballot on Tuesday include Illinois attorney general, Cook County Board President, Cook County Assessor, every Illinois congressional seat, and Illinois House and Senate races, among others.