The election lottery

The election lottery

Posted by Mike Riopell on Tue, 03/13/2012 - 16:02

Election Day is just one week away. So now's a good time for us to add to the list of unanswered questions that still remain.

The bevy of candidates running for Illinois Senate know, basically, what their job will be if elected. But they still don't know how long their terms will be.

We wrote in July of last year why this is, and we checked in with officials recently to confirm it's still the case.

It’s a quirk of the Illinois system that state senators serve either 2- or 4-year terms depending on an every-10-years lottery.

Over a decade, each Illinois Senate seat has two 4-year terms and one 2-year term. What order they come in is subject to a lottery, which sets a rotation for the entire Senate.

The Illinois Secretary of State's office conducts the lottery, but they haven't arranged for a date yet with Senate officials, a spokesman told us.

So on March 20, Senate candidates will know if they've moved on to the general election, but they won't know if they're safe for two or four years.

Here's why this matters in the suburbs: There are a handful of Illinois senators who might have aspirations for higher office in 2014 - the office of governor in particular.

It'd be helpful for those senators to have their upcoming term be four years. That way, they could run for office in 2014 without risking losing their Senate seats.

Draw a two-year term, though, and the decision whether to run statewide becomes far more difficult. You can't run for both re-election to the Senate and for governor at the same time in 2014.

So if you run for governor and lose, you'd also lose your Senate seat.

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