While many eyes are understandably on the upcoming presidential election, many other offices are up as well in November, and if fundraising is any indication, Evanstonians can expect to see a lot of literature in their mailboxes for races further down the ballot this fall.
The 17th Representative District includes a handful of precincts in northwest Evanston (west of Ewing Street) but but is dominated by neighboring suburban areas, i.e., Skokie and Glenview. It's represented by Republican incumbent Beth Coulson. However, the district gave John Kerry a healthy majority in the last presidential election and is viewed as a possible pickup seat for Democrats, especially if, as expected, there is a strong local turnout for Illinois's Barack Obama.
Democratic challenger Daniel Biss, a first-time candidate, has campaigned on a theme of change and finished the reporting period ending June 30 reporting a $219,000 war chest.
Coulson has more than matched that with approximately $240,000 in campaign funds on hand. However, Coulson, who has in the past enjoyed support from the medical lobby, pharmaceutical companies, teachers' unions, and environmental groups, can be expected to up the ante, as she raised over $400,000 in her last hotly-contested race.
Closer to home for most Evanstonians, Rep. Julie Hamos, whose 18th District includes the bulk of the city, had no opponent in the primary and as of yet faces no Republican in the fall general election, but still raised funds at a hot pace in the first half of 2008. Two June events in Evanston, alone, reportedly netted over six figures combined, leaving her, too, with available funds of over $200,000. That's a plump wallet for someone currently without a fall contest (but note: both the GOP and the Green Party may fill vacancies in nomination by appointment).
Extremely reliable sources are saying that if Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan takes on Governor Blagojevich in the 2010 primary, as many think is nearly certain, Julie will be a candidate, and a formidable one, for the attorney general spot. Chicago Rep. John Fritchey (D.-11th), who represents the DePaul, west Lakeview, and Ravenswood neighborhoods, is also said to be eyeing that post.
While the 2010 elections no doubt seem far away to many, the advanced primary date means that petitions for the 2010 primary, if it remains in February, will start circulating next August, about exactly a year from now. So despite the refrain you will hear on every Democrat's lips, that the overwhelming priority is electing a president, rest assured that incumbents and potential challengers alike are already thinking ahead -- and have to be.