Taryn Phaneuf Aug. 1, 2016, 8:49am


St. Clair County voters can begin casting ballots by mail on Aug. 10, a signal that election countdown is near. 

St. Clair County GOP chairman Doug Jameson told the Record he expects the GOP will “pick up seats up and down the ticket," given the record turnout in the March primary, as well as the most Republican candidates running for office since the 1970s.

Jameson said local voters are tuned into national races, as well as those closer to home.

“I think the presidential race is drawing an awful lot of attention, especially at the local level,” he said.

Local races also are getting a lot of attention as well, Jameson said.

“Judicial races in this circuit will be featured prominently, especially given the challenge that’s going on with the incumbent judges trying to circumvent the state constitution,” he said.

The Fourth District Appellate Court ruled last week in a case involving circuit judges John Baricevic, Robert LeChien and Robert Haida, who resigned last August, effective in December this year, creating vacancies they intend to fill by running for election in November. The appellate court on Thursday upheld a lower court decision allowing their names to remain on the ballot. 

Belleville City Clerk Dallas Cook objected to the judges’ move, saying state law requires sitting judges seeking another term to run for retention. Judges running for election only need a simple majority rather than the 60 percent required for retention.

The three judges whose candidacies are being challenged are Democrats. Baricevic and LeChien face Republican challengers Ronald Duebbert and Cason Laninya, respectively. Haida will be unopposed. 

“Whichever side prevails, I imagine there would be an immediate filing in the (Illinois) Supreme Court,” Jameson said.

Other local races include members of the County Board, as well as the Circuit Clerk, County Auditor, State’s Attorney, Recorder, Coroner and Board of Review.

Of the 20 County Board races this year, Republicans are running in 17.

Jameson said fundraising for GOP candidates is primarily done by individual campaigns, and not by the centralized party. He didn’t estimate how much he expects Republicans will raise ahead of the November elections.

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