It would have been inconceivable not too long ago to talk about Team Blue controlling the local government in what was long an ardently Republican area. After supporting Democrat Franklin Pierce in the 1852 presidential election―a contest that took place before the Republican Party even existed―DuPage County spent the next century-and-a-half as a loyal GOP bastion.
Indeed, 1912 was the one presidential campaign during that period when it failed to support the presidential nominee, as voters decisively favored former Republican President Theodore Roosevelt's third-party bid against President William Howard Taft. The GOP in the 1930s also snagged a majority on the county Board and a monopoly in countywide offices, both of which would last well into the 20th century.
DuPage County's population skyrocketed for decades in the middle of the 20th century, and the area acquired a reputation as a voter-rich and rock-ribbed Republican suburb up and down the ballot. In 2000, when Democrats won their very first race for the county Board since 1982, the Chicago Tribune wrote that local GOP leaders were looking "for answers." That story noted that, while George W. Bush's 55-42 victory represented a small improvement from the last two presidential elections, it was far smaller than the GOP margins of old; one Republican leader even blamed Ross Perot's 1992 and 1996 campaigns, arguing, "Perot got a lot of people out of the habit of automatically voting for Republicans."
Bush carried DuPage County again four years later by a smaller 54-45 margin in what proved to be the last GOP presidential victory here. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama finally broke the GOP's long presidential streak in 2008 by prevailing 55-44, but while that historic win showed once and for all that this area was no longer safely red turf, Democratic gains would come in fits and starts.
In 2012, Democrats elected three Board members as Obama narrowly carried the county. However, while disgust with Donald Trump helped propel Hillary Clinton to a 53-39 victory in 2016, Republicans came about 50 votes short of again holding every single seat on that body. The Trump era, though, propelled Democrats to victory up and down the ballot in longtime GOP suburban strongholds across the country, and DuPage County was no exception.
In 2018, Democrat Sean Casten ousted Republican Rep. Peter Roskam in the local 6th Congressional District as J.B. Pritzker was becoming the party's first gubernatorial nominee to win countywide since the 1930s. Local Democrats also won their first countywide offices in 84 years and boosted their Board membership from one to seven, while Cronin only won re-election 51-49. Two years later, Joe Biden's 58-40 win helped propel Democrats to a historic 11-7 Board majority and victories in most of the county's state legislative races.
Conroy this year has the chance to finally flip the county Board chair's office for her party by beating Hart in a race where both contenders are focusing on public safety. Conroy is also putting abortion rights and mental health front and center while Hart is campaigning on lowering local property taxes. Republicans, for their part, are also hoping to rebound in DuPage by retaking the Board, where all 18 seats will be on the ballot.
- AZ-Gov: Katie Hobbs (D): $5.3 million raised (July 17-Sept. 30), $1.7 million cash-on-hand; Kari Lake (R): $3.6 million raised, $1.8 million cash-on-hand
- NV-Gov: Steve Sisolak (D-inc): $3.24 million raised
● CO-Sen: While Politico writes that national Republican operatives believe Joe O'Dea "is the best Republican candidate running for Senate this year," Donald Trump seems to be doing what he can to sink his party's standard bearer's chances against Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet.
On Monday, one day after O'Dea said he would "actively campaign against Donald Trump" in 2024 to try to get a different Republican presidential nominee, Trump took to Truth Social to blast him as a "RINO" who "is having a good old time saying that he wants to 'distance' himself from President Trump, and other slightly nasty things." Trump concluded, "MAGA doesn't Vote for stupid people with big mouths. Good luck Joe!"
Trump's offensive came a week after far-right state Rep. Ron Hanks, whom O'Dea beat 54-46 in the June primary, endorsed Libertarian Brian Peotter as "the only conservative on the ballot." Trump did not mention Peotter in his missive but another Republican who lost over the summer, state Rep. Dave Williams, very much did in his response. "Ouch," tweeted Williams, who failed to deny renomination to 5th District Rep. Doug Lamborn, adding, "Maybe Joe's campaign shouldn't alienate the base 3 weeks before an election."
● CT-Sen, CT-Gov: The CT Examiner released a survey from the Fabrizio, Lee & Associates giving Democratic incumbents mid-single digit leads for Senate and governor, but there's a few huge caveats in this "nonpartisan poll." Not only is Fabrizio one of the GOP's most prominent pollsters, with a client list that includes Trump's new super PAC, GOP donor David Kelsey funds both the CT Examiner and a super PAC dedicated to ousting Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont.
As for the numbers, Fabrizio shows Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal fending off Republican Leora Levy 49-44; Lamont, meanwhile, leads Republican Bob Stefanowski 46-40 as third-party candidate Rob Hotaling grabs 5%. September polls from Western New England University and Quinnipiac University had both Democrats ahead by double digits.
● IA-Sen, IA-Gov: Selzer & Company caused a stir over the weekend when its newest poll for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom Iowa showed longtime Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley edging out Democrat Mike Franken just 46-43, a drop from Grassley's 47-39 edge in July.
The numbers were especially attention grabbing because Selzer, which has long enjoyed a solid reputation in Iowa, correctly found clear leads for Donald Trump and Sen. Joni Ernst in its final 2020 poll at a time when other firms were giving Democrats reasons for optimism in those races. Notably, Selzer's new poll also shows Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds fending off Democrat Deidre DeJear 52-35, so the narrow Grassley edge doesn't seem to be the product of an overly liberal sample.
This poll was even better for Franken than his late September internal from Change Research, which showed him down 49-44. The GOP firm Cygnal also publicized numbers from early October for the conservative Iowans for Tax Relief Foundation that showed Grassley winning by a clear 54-40. National Democrats so far have shown little interest in pouring money into a state that was the source of so much disappointment two years ago.
● PA-Sen: NBC relays that Senate Majority PAC has booked another $5 million to aid Democrat John Fetterman.
NC-Sen: East Carolina University: Ted Budd (R): 50, Cheri Beasley (D): 44 (Sept.: 49-46 Budd)
OH-Sen: Suffolk University for USA Today: J.D. Vance (R): 47, Tim Ryan (D): 45 (Sept.: 47-46 Ryan)
UT-Sen: OH Predictive Insights (R): Mike Lee (R-inc): 47, Evan McMullin (I): 32
UT-Sen: We’ve seen two other polls this month from reputable firms, and they’ve each shown very different numbers from both OH and one another. Dan Jones & Associates put Lee ahead 42-37, while a Hill Research Consultants internal for a pro-McMullin super PAC gave their man a 49-43 advantage.
● MS-Gov: Mississippi Today's Bobby Harrison reports that Secretary of State Michael Watson is considering waging a GOP primary bid against Gov. Tate Reeves next year; Watson himself was recently asked about his plans for next year and said he hadn't committed to anything. Additionally, Harrison says that State Auditor Shad White and Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson "are also said to have considered a gubernatorial bid as they've coursed their political futures," but there's no other information about their interest.
● OK-Gov: We have two different polls from GOP firms that show Oklahoma Democrat Joy Hofmeister leading Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, though they disagree by how much. Ascend Action, a group that doesn’t appear to have ever released horserace numbers anywhere, puts Hofmeister up 49-42. The local GOP pollster Amber Integrated, meanwhile, has the Democrat edging out Stitt 46-45, with another 3% going to the independent campaign of former GOP state Sen. Ervin Yen; last month, Amber showed Stitt ahead 47-44.
These numbers came about a week after a media poll from SoonerPoll showed Hofmeister up 47-43. Stitt, for his part, tried to pre-empt these surveys with his own late September internal showing him well ahead 48-33, though he’s loudly griped that outside groups are massively outspending him.
One of those organizations, Imagine This Oklahoma, is also out with a new ad pushing back on Stitt’s attempts to link Hofmeister to national Democrats. “Kevin Stitt attacked our teachers,” says one member of the commercial’s cast, before others jump in, “He attacked healthcare professionals. He attacked Native American tribes.” The spot continues, “Now Kevin Stitt and his cronies are attacking Joy Hofmeister. This is not about D.C. politics. This is about Oklahoma—our roads, our schools, our families.”
MI-Gov: Cygnal (R) for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters: Gretchen Whitmer (D-inc): 49, Tudor Dixon (R): 44
MN-Gov: Embold Research for MinPost: Tim Walz (D-inc): 47, Scott Jensen (R): 42
OH-Gov: Suffolk University for USA Today: Mike DeWine (R-inc): 56, Nan Whaley (D): 38 (Sept.: 54-39 DeWine)
● CA-22: Republicans have aired ad after ad against Democrat Rudy Salas trying to link him to a 2017 state gas and vehicle registration tax to fund infrastructure and road repairs, and House Majority PAC is pushing back with a new ad that instead blames Republican incumbent David Valadao for high gas prices. The spot begins with a narrator declaring that Salas was “the only Democrat to vote against the gas tax increase.” He then blasts Valadao for “voting against cracking down on oil company price gouging” and taking contributions “from the oil and gas industry.”
● FL-27: The GOP firm Cygnal, working on behalf of GOP Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar’s allies at Leadership for a Strong America, gives her a 50-44 edge over Democrat Annette Taddeo. The only other recent poll we’ve seen was a Taddeo internal from SEA Polling and Strategic Design that put the Democrat ahead 47-46.
● IL-17: The DCCC’s new ad against Esther Joy King accuses the Republican of having “lied about her business experience, said she ran several businesses. But there’s virtually no record they exist.” The spot goes on to show a clip of King saying, “I am unapologetically pro-life.”
The business charge comes from a 2020 Politico item during King’s unsuccessful campaign to unseat Democratic incumbent Cheri Bustos, who is now retiring. Shia Kapos wrote that “King headed a social media marketing company called 364.Social, a company we couldn’t find online.”
The candidate, according to Kapos, said this was because it “was folded into another marketing firm that she helped start … which also has next-to-no presence online.” Politico added, “King also billed herself as founder of Flashbulb Media — another company that appears to be non-existent.”
● Independent Expenditures: The NRCC and Congressional Leadership fund continue to heavily outspend their Democratic counterparts, the DCCC and House Majority PAC, with the two GOP groups pouring in another $36 million in independent expenditures over the previous week versus $28 million on the Democratic side, according to the latest update of our tracker. For the cycle, Republicans have spent $152 million on House races while Democrats have spent $105 million. However, Democratic candidates have done a much better job of fundraising, and campaigns by law are entitled to better ad rates than third-party groups, so in terms of actual number of ads aired, the gap is much smaller and may even go the other way.
One new district also saw spending from the Big Four for the first time: Florida's 27th, a seat in Miami and its southern suburbs that Republicans gerrymandered to help freshman Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar. But while the district shifted from a 51-48 win for Joe Biden to a 49.9 to 49.6 edge for Donald Trump, per calculations from Daily Kos Elections, Democrats nonetheless landed a prominent challenger in state Sen. Annette Taddeo, and limited polling indicates a tight contest. The deep-pocketed CLF is taking the race seriously enough to put in $660,000 to boost Salazar, but outside Democratic groups have yet to take an interest.
Attorneys General and Secretaries of State
● AZ-SoS, AZ-AG: The local GOP firm OH Predictive Insights shows Republican Mark Finchem leading Democrat Adrian Fontes 43-41 for secretary of state while his fellow election denier, Abraham Hamadeh, enjoys a similar 42-39 over Democrat Kris Mayes for attorney general. OH last month showed Finchem ahead 45-40, while it did not release numbers for the other contest.
Fontes and the state party, meanwhile, are running a new ad where Jason Van Tatenhove, a former Oath Keepers spokesman who has rejected his former colleagues, denounces Finchem’s ties to the far-right group. “I was a propagandist for the Oath Keepers,” Van Tatenhove tells the audience, “They’re the ones who stormed the Capitol … They brought explosives, military-grade weapons.” He continues by warning that Finchem “is a member of the Oath Keepers … the guy’s an election denier. He’s made it very clear the rule of law doesn’t matter to him.” Another spot features former Navajo County Sheriff K.C. Clark also warning about Finchem and the Oath Keepers.
● MI-SoS, MI-AG: The GOP firm Cygnal has also released numbers from the downballot contests for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters:
MI-SoS: Jocelyn Benson (D-inc): 48, Kristina Karamo (R): 42
MI-AG: Dana Nessel (D-inc): 45, Matthew DePerno (R): 43
● Harris County, TX Judge: Campaign finance reports released last week show that Republican Alexandra del Moral Mealer outraised Democratic incumbent Lina Hidalgo $4.9 million to $1.5 million from July 1 to Sept. 29, while Hidalgo went into the final weeks with a small $2 million to $1.7 million cash-on-hand edge. The Houston Chronicle writes that this is a massive escalation from 2018, when Republican Judge Ed Emmett raised just $300,000 during this period ahead of his upset loss to Hidalgo. (In Texas, county judges are executive rather than judicial posts.)
AdImpact also relays that Mealer, who has received huge donations from local businessmen, has run nearly three times as many commercials as Hidalgo. Mealer has used her spots both to promote her career in the military and energy industry and to blame the Democrat for crime. Hidalgo, by contrast, has used her messaging to tie Mealer to Donald Trump and the Big Lie in a county that Joe Biden took 56-43, the best performance for a Democratic presidential nominee since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.
Comments are closed on this story.