With Jim Harrison deciding that he is going to run as an Independent in the McHenry County Sheriff’s race next year, it’s time to look at what has happened in the recent past when Independents ran against Republicans.
The most prominent was when State Rep. Mark Beaubien’s widow Dee.
In that contest, Republican David McSweeney was the Republican.
Each spent heavily to demonize the other.
Coming off a contentious three-way GOP primary, McSweeney won 58% to 41%.
Grafton Township’s most recent election had a well-publicized slate of Independents running for election against winners of the Republican Party primary election.
On the top of the ticket was Huntley Village Trustee Pam Fender facing off against Independent Jim Kearns.
Republican Fender, who won a hotly-contested three-way primary election with 39% of the vote, spent about $2,500 in the first quarter of the year. This does not include the week before the election, so more may have been spent.
Independent Kearns won by just under three-quarters of one percent (1944-1877). Kearns has not filed a report with the State Board of Elections. Such reports are required if one raises or spends over $3,000 in an election.
The third recent example also occurred in Grafton Township.
In a two-way race, Al Zielinski beat incumbent Bill Ottley 55% to 45% in the Republican Primary Election.
Zielinski spent a bit over $6,200, filing his report after the required deadline. I can find no campaign disclosure report for Ottley. [Looked again after a commenter said he could find it. The only way I could find it was by using the search word "Huntley" in the name of the town. He spent spent $2,461.21, but reports a negative balance of $461.21, something I believe the State Board does not allow. All the money came from Ottley and his wife.] No report has been filed by Jensen either, but as mentioned earlier, one is only required if the $3,000 threshold has been exceeded.
In the general election, Republican Zielinski edged out Independent Terra Jensen by 5.8 percentage points (1,998-1,774).
There was also a race against Republican nominee for Grafton Township Road Commissioner Tom Poznanski. He won the GOP Primary against Richard Dvorak by 63% to 37%. Poznanski is the Chairman of the Grafton Township Republican Central Committee.
In the April General Election, Poznanski was challenged by Independent Tim Hoeft. Poznanski won by 54-46.
Over in Nunda Township Independent Leda Drain ran against Republican Lee Jennings.
Jennings had a hot primary with three people running. One withdrew her candidacy, but too late for her name to be taken off the ballot.
Jennings barely beat Bridgette Provenzano, but Provenzano endorsed his candidacy in the General Election.
The result was that Jennings got over 57% of the vote. It was Jennings 2,614 and Drain 1,937.
So in the five most recent examples, those on the Republican Party ticket four out of five contests.
If I were Harrison, I would be hoping that the GOP Primary would be so heated that the backers of Bill Prim, if Andy Zinke won the primary, would back me.
Conversely, if Prim emerged victorious, I would be hoping that Zinki’s supporters would rally around my candidacy.
That did not happen, however, in the cases of
It apparently did occur in the case of Jim Kearns victory over Pam Fender.
This is too small a sample from which to draw a conclusion, but it does indicate that when a primary contest in contentious, supporters of those who lose can rally to the campaign of an Independent.
In the case of Independent Jim Kearns’ victory, however, his Republican opponent Pam Fender was opposed by over 60% of the Republican Primary voters.