Tuesday's special primary election in the 18th Congressional District – covering Quincy, Jacksonville, and parts of Springfield, Bloomington, and Peoria – comes down to two things, says University of Illinois Springfield political science professor Kent Redfield.
One is turnout, as conservative writer Mike Flynn's voters will all be at the polls, hoping State Sen. Darin LaHood's (R-Dunlap) people forget to show up. “In low-turnout elections,” he says, “it always favors people with organization.”
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That would be LaHood, who entered the race almost immediately after the ink was dry on former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock's (R-Peoria) resignation in March, raising money, advertising heavily, and collecting endorsements. Flynn's campaign theme is that all of that marks LaHood as less than a true conservative.
That brings us to the second big factor in the race: which candidate can out-Tea Party the other.
“Mike Flynn has tried to paint Darin LaHood as being more of an establishment kind of candidate. In LaHood's commercials, he has made sure that no one is going to get to the right of him,” says Redfield.
There's a third Republican in the race, Donald Reints of Benson. Redfield dismisses the Democratic contenders, Springfield insurance agent Adam Lopez and Quincy teacher Rob Mellon. “It does not matter. It is an overwhelmingly Republican district. There's nothing, really, to drive Democratic voters to the polls in either the primary or the general.”
The general election is Sept. 10 – the Thursday following Labor Day.
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