CHICAGO (CBS) — Polls have opened for the primary election in Illinois, and officials are expecting a busy day in the Chicago area, with heated battles on the ballot for both Democrats and Republicans.
While Hillary Clinton once held a commanding lead in the race for the Democratic nomination for president, it’s now a neck-and-neck contest with Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump leads the Republican field in the race for president, but Ted Cruz is within striking distance.READ MORE: Bulls Win Second Home Opener Against The Pelicans
The race for president isn’t the only hot contest on the ballot in Illinois. Embattled Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez faces opposition from two opponents in the Democratic primary, in the wake of the Laquan McDonald scandal. Challengers Donna More and Kim Foxx both have blasted Alvarez for waiting more than a year to file murder charges against the Chicago police officer who shot McDonald 16 times, but Alvarez has defended her handling of the case, saying her office conducted a thorough investigation.
Meantime, a state legislative race is serving as a proxy war between Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov. Bruce Rauner, with Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago) facing a challenge from rookie candidate Juliana Stratton. Dunkin has repeatedly sided with Rauner on key votes in Springfield, and allies of Rauner and Madigan have spent millions on the race. President Barack Obama even made the unprecedented move of weighing in on a Democratic primary in his home state, backing Stratton after chiding Dunkin last month during a speech on the value of bipartisan cooperation. Dunkin had run ads making it seem like Obama was endorsing him, so Obama has now run ads endorsing Stratton.
Cook County election officials have said they expect strong turnout for the primary, likely better than 43 percent. The last time local election officials saw turnout that high for a primary was 2008, when Barack Obama was running for president.
Already, the county has seen a record number of early votes, with 230,000 ballots already cast in Chicago and the Cook County suburbs. Cook County Clerk David Orr said this primary generated a record number of mail ballots and grace period registration, with a large number of young voters.
If you’re 17, but you’ll turn 18 by the general election in November, you’re eligible to vote in the Illinois primary.