Incumbents win big in Illinois primary with Chicago-area Democrats emerging from competitive races

CHICAGO (AP) — Incumbents in competitive U.S. House races around Chicago cruised to victory in Tuesday’s primary, while a downstate Republican challenger conceded in a race that focused on an endorsement from President Donald Trump.

Turnout was low, notably in Chicago, where roughly 20% of registered voters cast ballots.

Here’s a closer look:

12TH DISTRICT

Former state Sen. Darren Bailey conceded to U.S. Rep. Mike Bost in a competitive Republican primary in southern Illinois, according to Bailey’s campaign.

The Associated Press had not called the race by late Tuesday.

It is Bost’s second intraparty challenge in seeking his sixth term in Congress. Bailey, the unsuccessful 2022 GOP nominee for governor, was hoping to unseat the 63−year−old incumbent.

Bailey, 57, has maintained that Bost is not conservative enough. Illinois’ 12th Congressional District, redrawn after the 2020 Census, now includes a large chunk of southeastern Illinois that gave Donald Trump more than 70% of the vote in both 2016 and 2020. Bailey’s hopes to win the endorsement in this race from the former president were dashed when Trump, the presumptive 2024 presidential nominee, gave his backing to Bost.

Bost thanked Trump during a speech to supporters late Tuesday and emphasized the need for finding common ground.

“If we stay united as a party, we can truly advance the agenda,” he said.

The issues are clear in the race: Rebuffing any regulation on the possession of guns, reducing inflation, opposing abortion and sealing the U.S. southern border, a particular problem for Illinois, which has received roughly 36,000 migrants who have largely crossed into Texas and have been sent to Chicago.

Bailey contends Republicans in Congress should fight Democrats’ agenda on these and other issues and cooperate only when they abandon “extreme” positions. Bost opposes Democrats’ policies but calls himself a “governing conservative,” seeking compromise to get things done.

Bailey gave a brief concession speech, saying his supporters needed to keep holding elected officials accountable.

“I think we made a statement,” he said. “Hopefully the party will take notice that we’re not going to take this nonsense anymore, this sellout attitude.”

7TH DISTRICT

Longtime Rep. Danny Davis won the Democratic primary after a competitive five−way contest.

Davis, who first took office in 1997, had faced questions about his fitness for office at age 82. He said those questions are fair but his experience is valuable, particularly for leadership on key committees. He’s a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Davis credited his strong support in the district, which includes downtown Chicago and neighborhoods on the south and west sides, along with some suburbs.

“Our roots are deep in this community and not just one area or one part of it,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday evening. “We knew our people would rise to the occasion.”

Davis had enthusiastic party backing. Still, the Democrats challenging him hoped there was enough dissatisfaction among voters to help them. Davis was able to fend off a 2022 primary challenge from progressive anti−violence activist Kina Collins, who received about 45% of the vote.

The other well−known candidate in the race was Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears−Ervin, a former Davis ally who said it was time for him to be voted out. She had backing from prominent Black pastors and the powerful Chicago Teachers Union.

Since the district is heavily Democratic, Davis is expected to win in November.

Also running were Chicago educator Nikhil Bhatia and Kouri Marshall, a former deputy director for Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

4TH DISTRICT

Three−term Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia won the Democratic primary against Chicago Alderman Raymond Lopez.

The congressman, who dominated in funding and endorsements, was facing his first primary challenger since 2018, when he won congressional office.

Garcia delivered a wide−ranging speech to supporters gathered Tuesday at his election night party, touching on reproductive rights, the economy and immigration reform.

“We need to stand strong together and united,” he said. "Our work together will be tough. But we are tougher, and we’ve demonstrated it time and time again.”

Lopez had argued Garcia is no longer the right fit for the district, which is predominantly Hispanic and includes working−class communities and neighborhoods on the city’s southwest side as well as wealthy suburbs.

Lopez, 45, is one of the most conservative members of City Council, often backing police. He has called Garcia an “extreme Democrat.”

Garcia, 67, said voters have repeatedly put him in office, including in 2022 after a remap added new territory to the district. He’s also a former state legislator and city alderman.

Garcia dominated in fundraising, raising $376,000 last year compared to Lopez’s $46,000 in the same time period, according to federal election records. He’s picked up endorsements from labor groups, while Lopez has support from the Chicago police union.

There’s no Republican running in the heavily Democratic district, so Garcia is expected to win outright in November.

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Associated Press political writer John O’Connor contributed to this report from Springfield.

Sophia Tareen, The Associated Press

Photo: AP