[Update 12/4: The special primary will be February 5 along with the regular primary, as we thought it would be; the special general is scheduled for March 8.]
It’s funny (albeit in that kind of lip-curling way) that Denny Hastert says he resigned the way he did so we could have the special primary on the same day as the regular primary to save us taxpayers money. That’s hogwash. If he really wanted to save us money he’d finish his term. We still need to have the special general election, one more than we bargained for this year, and as far as I can tell it will cost the county about $45,000 to put on that extra show. Denny does not appear to have resigned because of health issues, which in my book is one of few legitimate reasons for packing up early; indeed, he seems miffed that the nasty partisan Congress wouldn’t let him influence energy policy. Boo hoo hoo.
If one of our U.S. senators quit, the governor would be allowed to appoint someone in his place to finish out the term because we’d still have one elected person left to represent us in the Senate. A departing congressman, on the other hand, leaves a district unrepresented in the House so by law the governor must order a special election cycle of one special primary and one special general. What can be confusing is the overlap, but the timing cannot be helped. Governor Rod has five days to figure out when these special elections should be, and another 115 days to get them done.
The thing to remember is that the special primary and general are just about getting someone in there to finish up Denny’s term, while the regular primary and general are about filling a new two-year term beginning January 2009. Most likely we will be voting in the special primary and the regular primary on the same day in February but with two ballots, one with just the IL-14 (special/filling out the term) candidates and the other with everybody else including the IL-14 (regular/new term) candidates. Then, the victors of the special primary run in a special general in March or early April, and the victors of the regular primary go to it in the regular general in November.
This could actually become more confusing. It’s conceivable that we end up not having exactly the same field of candidates for the special primary as we do the regular primary. The reason for that is the ballot petition filing. The candidates in the regular primary filed their petitions earlier this month so that field is set (assuming Michael Dilger overcomes the challenge to his petitions from the Lauzen camp). But now the campaigns each have to file another 800 valid signatures (actually 793 for Repub candidates; 863 for Dems) within three weeks to get into the special primary. Most campaigns got way more signatures than required (e.g., Foster 1900; Laesch 2300) for the regular primary in order to “inoculate” themselves against petition challenges but some campaigns may not have that kind of a buffer for the special. Considering that the person who gets elected to finish Hastert’s term would undoubtedly enjoy an edge in the general, things could get zoo-y very fast.
If so, I’ll just add it to my list of things to thank Denny for.