Lisa Madigan already deserves credit for single-handedly achieving a long-held goal of voters and reformers: she has dramatically shortened the 2010 Illinois primary season. Consider that petitions hit the street in one month and almost no one has decided what they are running for yet. Usually a primary campaign season drags on for more than a year. This time, we're looking at a six month sprint to the February 2 primary, all because of Lisa.
Only when Attorney General Madigan decides what she will be running for in late July (or maybe even early August) will the dominoes fall on the most exciting Democratic primary in ten years.
We'll likely have a contested Democratic primary for the US Senate, Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, Treasurer, Cook County Board President as well as open seats from all the legislators who compete for those seats sparking even more contested primaries. This is exciting!
As an election attorney, it's also a good time for me to remind potential candidates to make sure you hire an attorney to draft your petitions and to fully and thoroughly review them before submitting them. I have seen dozens (hundreds?) of well-intentioned, intelligent, decently-funded candidates knocked off the ballot because they chose not to hire an attorney to navigate the treacherous, technicality-filled waters of Illinois ballot access. Candidates, my number is 312.933.4890 and my email is dan (at) ProgressivePublicAffairs.com . Don't be a statistic!
But for voters, especially the million or so Democratic primary voters, the next seven months will be prime time in setting the direction of the most important Democratic state in the Union (the home of our President). There will never be a better time to get involved in Democratic politics (from the perspective of influencing the direction of the Illinois Democratic party). So pick a candidate and help them out!
Petitions hit the street August 4th for county, state and federal candidates. They are due November 2nd (but most candidates will file on the first day they can, October 26th, to try to get the top spot on the ballot). So they need help now -- or at least, as soon as they know what they are running for.
November 9th is the last day to file objections to those petitions, and thus November and December will be filled with line-by-line challenges to the petitions of those candidates that did not collect far more than the required signatures of registered voters in their district.
The holidays knock out the last two weeks of December, and then we're looking at a final four-week campaign season between New Years Day and February 2, 2010.
The only downside to Lisa's shrinkage of the primary campaign season to less than six months will be a nine-month general election campaign for all the statewide races between the nominees of the major parties (a bit long for my taste). Well, that isn't her fault -- the General Assembly didn't move the primary back from early February. They probably should (on behalf of all the campaign workers freezing outside while walking precincts in January .... how about a May primary?).
After eight years of relative stability, the next two cycles are going to be full of churn (because remember, the 2012 cycle will involve all new districts). This is going to be fun!