By Mark Wachtler
January 29, 2016. Springfield, IL. (ONN) Voters in Illinois must really love their State Legislature. A staggering 65 percent of the 118 State Representatives will have no opponent in the General Election. That’s a sad state of democracy for what is arguably the most bankrupt and corrupt state in America. Or is there another reason nobody wants to challenge the incumbents and party insiders? Many say our election system is rigged and there is no point in voting, much less running for office. Others disagree.
Scott Schluter, Libertarian candidate for Illinois State Representative. Image courtesy of WSIU.org.
Running against a rigged system
Among those who refuse to throw in the towel on our seemingly broken election system are independents and third parties. While Republicans and Democrats have forged an unwritten nonaggression pact here in Illinois; Libertarians, Greens, Constitutionals, and Veterans Party candidates are currently scrambling to take advantage of the many uncontested races.
Unfortunately for them, and to illustrate just how rigged Illinois elections are, to run for State Representative as an independent or a third party candidate, one would need between 5,000 and 10,000 petition signatures. Republican and Democrat candidates only need as few as 500 signatures.
Another example is the requirement to run for US House from Illinois. Democrat and Republican candidates must submit roughly 500 petition signatures. Independents and third party candidates must submit as many as 15,000. That’s one documented reason that elected officials from the two establishment parties rarely, if ever, have an opponent.
Illinois Libertarians put out the call
The first opposition political party in Illinois to put out the call for candidates was the Libertarian Party of Illinois. Party leaders even went so far as to put together a spreadsheet showing all the State House and State Senate seats where the incumbent will have no opponent in November. Of the 118 Democrat and Republican State Representatives in Illinois, 76 will be running unopposed in the General Election.
In an email to Illinois Libertarians, Party leaders explained, “Running in an uncontested race is a great opportunity to affect change in your community by spreading the Libertarian message and possibly picking up a seat for the Party in the State House. Running a political campaign is both a rewarding and challenging experience, and our Political Division is here to help you through the process.”
The email goes on to encourage potential candidates who may be intimidated by the thought of running for office. It’s no secret that Democrats and Republicans have ‘career politicians’, usually the sons and daughters of past career politicians. But independents, Libertarians, Greens and other opposition parties are made up of regular people who produce ‘citizen-candidates’, often running for office for the first time in their lives.
That’s why the Illinois Libertarian Party assures candidates they aren’t alone. “If this is something you’re interested in, take the first step on your road to becoming a candidate by emailing Campaigns@LPIllinois.org,” the email encourages, “We are here to walk you through the process.”
So far, the Libertarians already have two candidates for State Representative that are already on the campaign trail. Jake Leonard is running for State Rep from the 95th District. And Scott Schluter is running in the 117th District. Both will be appearing on the Libertarian Party ballot line in November.
Is your State Rep running unopposed?
Below is a list of Illinois State Representative Districts where the incumbent Republican or Democrat will have no opponent in the November General Election (from the Illinois Board of Elections):
State Reps WITHOUT an opponent (76)
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 57, 58, 64, 65, 67, 70, 73, 78, 80, 82, 83, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 97, 98, 100, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 116.
State Reps WITH an opponent (42)
10, 11, 12, 15, 18, 20, 24, 35, 42, 45, 46, 55, 56, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 66, 68, 69, 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 79, 81, 84, 93, 94, 95, 96, 99, 101, 112, 113, 114, 115, 117, 118.
The window for Republicans and Democrats to file to run for office has come and gone, but the schedule for independents and third party candidates as required by the Illinois Board of Elections hasn’t even begun yet. Independents and opposition party candidates can’t begin collecting ballot access petition signatures until the end of March. They must be turned in by the end of June.
Anyone interested in running for State Representative or State Senator, and challenging one of the many unopposed establishment incumbents, is encouraged to contact one of Illinois’ many opposition parties for more information and some help.
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