Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association
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IFCA's Election Roundup

With most of the tv ads and commentary focusing on the Presidential and US Congress election results, let's take a deeper dive into what happened in Illinois on Election night…

Progressive Income Tax / Fair Tax Goes Down
After bombarding Illinois residents with tv ads and mailers, voters rejected constitutional amendment to replace the flat tax with a progressive income tax.  The vote was 55% to 45% against the progressive tax (2,753,526 votes against, 2,243,840 for). The amendment needed to receive 60% of the vote on the amendment, or 50% of the total votes cast in the election in order to pass.  If the amendment would have passed, the projected income coming from the progressive income tax would been 3.7 billion dollars into the coffers of Illinois, with the first changes being an increased income tax rate only on those making more than $250,000 per year.  However, the amendment itself did not limit the General Assembly from raising taxes on any level or type of income.  As IFCA pointed out to our membership in October, the amendment also didn’t specify how the General Assembly must spend the new revenue, or if it would be spent on the backlog of bills or structural deficit.

Governor Pritzker stated yesterday that "All options for Illinois without the fair tax are not good" citing possible financial cuts in areas such as public safety, education, and human services. Governor Pritzker stated “Illinois is in a massive budget crisis due to years of a tax system that has protected millionaires and billionaires at the expense of our working families, a crisis that was only made worse by the Coronavirus pandemic.  Now lawmakers must address a multi-billion dollar budget gap without the ability to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share. Fair Tax opponents must answer for whatever comes next.”

After those comments, IFCA and all agriculture organizations in Illinois need to be vigilant this coming spring session and in the near future for any proposed changes to the ag input or farm machinery sales taxes, service taxes or other revenue schemes.  The State has a $151 billion budget and pension deficit, and the leadership is proposing no significant reforms on social service and pension programs which make up the vast majority of state spending. 

The business community believes Illinois needs severe reform in many areas and must get control over spending.  The General Assembly also needs to enact policies that make Illinois a business-friendly state again.  Over time, growth in the business sector will also foster job growth and begin to repair the structural problems with our state’s finances.   
IFCA will keep our members informed when the General Assembly returns to Springfield and if forced to deal once again with the massive debt that continues to mount while taxpayers also continue to leave the State for greener pastures. 

Illinois General Assembly Election Results
An overwhelmingly anti-Speaker Madigan message, a better than expected showing in support for President Trump, and voters also rejecting the progressive income amendment all combined to pretty much stop another Blue Wave from rolling across the Illinois General Assembly. 

At the end of election night, the Republicans picked up a net of two seats in the House of Representatives, mostly in the St. Louis metro-east/downstate areas. The Democrats are still winning a majority of the suburban districts; Republicans lost two seats in the suburbs.  If everything holds, Democrats will have a 72 to 46 majority in the Illinois House.  What is amazing about some of these numbers is that the Democrats had a 7 to1 money advantage over the House Republicans in these races.

The outcome of the Illinois State Senate races is still unclear.  There are two races that are still too close to call.  In both cases the Democrats are leading (but leading with less than 500 votes in both races). In one of those races, the Democrat is the incumbent and the other seat, the Republican is the incumbent. If the Democrats would pick up both of those seats, they would net one seat in the Illinois Senate. That would give Senate President Don Harmon a 41 to 18 advantage.

Some news that came out yesterday was that Senator Bill Brady will not run for re-election as Republican leader.  Two Republicans that IFCA has worked closely with in the past are in the running:  Senator Jason Barickman from Bloomington and Senator Sue Rezin from Morris are looking at a run for the Republican leadership spot.
Judge Killbride Not Retained for Illinois Supreme Court; Republican Wins Downstate Court Seat
For the first time in Illinois history, Illinois voters declined to retain a sitting Illinois Supreme Court Justice in Tuesday's election. Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride failed to receive the 60% vote to retain his seat on the Illinois Supreme Court for another 10 years. This District covers a swath through north-central Illinois.   The Court will name a replacement for Judge Killbride, and that judge will have to seek election in the next cycle. 

Although Illinois Supreme Court retention elections do not list party affiliation on the ballot, he was first elected to the state's highest court in 2000, and the fight over his retention broke down almost certainly on party lines as Republicans funded an effort to remove him, which would leave the court with a 3-3 split among Republicans and Democrats.

Republicans made a concerted effort to defeat Kilbride, portraying him as someone that is tied to Madigan.  Kilbride received $1 million in donations from the Madigan controlled Democratic party of Illinois over the years. 

There was also an open seat on the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Lloyd Karmeier (D) in the Southern Illinois judicial region.  Voters chose Justice David Overstreet, a Republican, over Justice Judy Cates (D).  This is yet another example of voters showing stronger support this year for conservative candidates and issues.

US Senate / US House
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin was up for re-election.  Senator Durbin won the race with 52.3% of the vote over Republican candidate Mark Curran.

Another contested race in central Illinois was Congressman Rodney Davis against Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. Tens of millions of dollars were spent on this race. Congressman Davis pulled out a win with 55% of the vote.

In the 17th congressional race that was much closer than originally expected, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos beat challenger Esther Joy King. Most predictions were that Congresswoman Bustos had a large lead, beat her challenger by only 2% of the vote.

What might be the surprise of the night, is that Illinois State Senator Jim Oberweis might beat incumbent Congresswoman Lauren Underwood in the 14th congressional district.  With 100% of the precincts reporting, Oberweis is leading by 895 votes. This very well could lead to a recount in this district.  Underwood had raised more than $7 million dollars compared to Oberweis’s $2.5 million.

Looking back after election night, most people thought the Democrats would have another hugely successfully election in the State and the nation.  At least here in Illinois, I think three things stopped that wave from crashing over Illinois yet again: 
  • I think the business community and the progressive income tax opponents framed the question well:  "Do you trust Springfield politicians with more of your money?"  I don't think the pro progressive income tax group could really ever mount a successful counter-argument to that question. 
  •  I think every Republican candidate from US House to State Representatives to the judicial seats on the ballot successfully beat on the “anti-Speaker Madigan” drum. In years past, it hasn't always worked well, but this year it resonated.
  • The other thing at play was that President Trump had a lot better showing here in Illinois than anybody expected.  He might not have won the state, but his percentages were a lot better than anticipated.  In 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in Illinois by 17 points.  As of right now, Joe Biden is beating Donald Trump by 12 points in Illinois. On Election Day most pollsters were predicting that Joe Biden would do better than Hillary Clinton did in 2016 in Illinois. Actually, Donald Trump did five points better. In some of these close races that 5% stemmed off a blue wave.
Please contact KJ Johnson at or 217.369.1669 with any questions or comments.