February 01, 2023


Local Democrats generally out-raised Republicans this spring

Brisk fundraising reported in newly created House district

Republicans anticipate a “red tide” at the polls this November, but for local races, the campaign funds collected this spring had more of a blue tint.

Democrats in contested races reported a much larger cash advantage in the campaign finance reporting period ending June 30. One explanation is the Democrats benefit from incumbency: Judge Christina Cantlin and state Rep. Lance Yednock were seated well before campaigning began, giving both a head start.

13th Judicial Circuit

Cantlin, a La Salle County circuit judge seeking to hold her appointed seat, reported cash on hand of almost $116,000 through June 30. The Ottawa Democrat raised about $8,000 in the second quarter but previously had amassed a large war chest soon after her appointment.

Cantlin spent about $7,000 this past quarter on signage and meet-and-greet events at August Hill Winery in Utica and Monte’s Riverside Inn in Ottawa. Treasurer Don Harris said Cantlin was highly rated by the Illinois State Bar Association, and she’s trying to communicate that to voters.

“Campaigns can get expensive,” Harris said. “This team and supporting donors have worked to raise a fair amount of money to be able to inform the voters of her ability, passion and knowledge of the law.”

Her Republican opponent, Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland, reported $8,800 in contributions this past quarter led by a $7,500 transfer from Kinzinger for Congress, the fund managed by U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

Helland, who did not respond to requests for comment, spent most of it on printing and reported cash on hand of about $675 at the close of the reporting period.

76th House District

Yednock, D-Ottawa, enjoys a large cash advantage over his Republican challenger. Through June 30, Yednock reported cash on hand totaling more than $700,000, about $110,000 of which was raised over the filing period just ended.

“Mine comes from having been in there for two terms now,” Yednock said. “Certainly, different organizations thought I have a level head and have supported me. So, I think it has to do with longevity.”

Republican Jason Haskell of Peru reported about $1,500 in cash after spending less than $500 on printing and Facebook advertising.

“My opponent has received well over a half-million dollars from special interest groups from outside of the 76th District,” Haskell said. “As support for my campaign for a lower cost of living and unwavering support of our first responders grows, I am confident I will have the resources needed to win.”

105th House District

One Republican who did raise funds aggressively was Dennis Tipsword, who last month won the nomination for the newly created 105th House District, which includes parts of La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties. He is currently unopposed in November.

Tipsword, a Woodford County sheriff’s deputy, raised almost $47,000 last quarter and spent about $61,000 fending off three Republican challengers in the June primary.

“My feeling is the amount of money spent on a race like mine is ridiculous,” Tipsword said. “I don’t have a clear answer on how to fix that at this point, but I think discussion is clearly needed.”

Among his challengers, Tipsword did not raise and spend the most last quarter. That distinction belongs to Kyle Ham, former executive director of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, who raised $65,000 and spent about $110,000.

Livingston County Board member Mike Kirkton, of Gridley, raised almost $40,000 and spent about $52,000. Former congressional candidate Don Rients of Benson raised and spent about $9,000.

The primary totals appeared to mirror the volume of campaign spending. Ham finished second with 23.1% of the votes, Kirkton drew 22.5%, and Rients earned 15.1%, according to tabulations by the Peoria Journal Star.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins

Tom Collins covers criminal justice in La Salle County.