SPRINGFIELD - While most of the media attention has been on the GOP gubernatorial race, there are also 15 GOP active primaries for State House seats. Among those 15, four races involve challenges of current GOP State House members: Ron Sandack (Downers Grove), Ed Sullivan (Mundelein), Jeanne Ives (Wheaton) and Sandra Pihos (Lombard).
Breaking down the money in these races:
Sandack closed out 2013's 4th quarter with $135,514 in his campaign coffers, having accepted donations from Democrat House member Sara Feigenholtz and openly lesbian Laura Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs. The House Republican Organization has chipped in $1200 for legal fees paid to attorney John Fogarty and Equality Illinois gave him $5000 in the third quarter, immediately after Sandack voted for same sex marriage, as did several other wealthy gay rights supporters.
Since January, Sandack has raised another $22,500, bringing his cash on hand up to $157k plus.
Sandack's challenger, Keith Matune didn't file for the 4th quarter and has reported no $1000 plus donations since January 31. The threshold for filing with the Illinois State Board of Elections is to raise $5000.
Rep. Sullivan closed out 2013's 4th quarter with $137,000 on hand, and has raised another $15,000 since January 1. Sullivan also received $5000 from Equality Illinois in the 3rd quarter.
Sullivan's challenger, Bob Bednar closed out the 2013 4th quarter with $155, but has raised over $10,000 in since January 1, 2014 - including a $5000 donation from Illinois Leadership Project, led by Jim Edwards. The Illinois Leadership Project says it is to elect conservative candidates, and Edwards lists as his former position as being executive director of Jack Roeser's Republican Renaissance PAC.
Rep. Ives ended the 2013 4th quarter with $27,338 in her account. Since then, she's doubled her coffers with contributions from Dan Proft-headed Illinois Liberty PAC, Illinois Policy Institute head John Tillman and conservative Jack Roeser.
Adam Johnson started the campaign season as a candidate for DuPage County Board, and switched to challenge Ives in 2014. He ended the 4th quarter with $14,295 in his coffers. An on-leave DuPage County employee, DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin donated $250 to Johnson's campaign. The Illinois Education Association's IPACE wrote checks for $15,000 after the first of the year, nearly doubling Johnson's fundraising amounts.
One of Johnson's donations is from Kruse Associates' Hank Kruse, a close confidante of State Rep. Ron Sandack. Ives' backing by Proft's Liberty PAC is reported to be an irritant to Sandack, as Proft backed a Tea Party challenger to Sandack in 2012.
Rep. Pihos' challenger Peter Breen has raised over $60,000 in his campaign, including $25,000 of his own funds. Conservative check writer Dick Uihlein has contributed $5300 to Breen.
Pihos had $47,127 on hand at the end of the 4th quarter, having received $25,000 from the Illinois Education Association in the 3rd quarter.
Name recognition and the ability to generate media notice are crucial in local House races. The Sandack-Matune race has drawn substantial media attention with Sandack revealing Matune's one-time arrest record during his college days. The Sullivan- Bednar race, as well as the Ives-Johnson and Pihos-Breen races haven been quiet, while the challengers cultivate grassroots support and the incumbents call on colleagues to support their re-election campaigns.
With eight other Republican House members not returning in 2015, the Illinois House Republican caucus is already bound for a substantial new look. If any of these incumbents do not return, the Republicans will still be in a House minority status as all four districts are stable GOP districts.