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Risky votes lead to primary challenges in Illinois

Published: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 1:35 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Several state lawmakers risk losing their seats in Tuesday's primary election after casting tough votes, either for cutting state worker retirement benefits or legalizing gay marriage.

The targeted challenges are among the toughest primary races in a year in which all 118 House seats and a third of 59 Senate seats are up. Overall, there are 27 primary contests for House seats this month, but just two in the Senate.

While Democrats stand a good chance of holding onto their veto-proof supermajorities in both legislative chambers this year, the intra-party challenges and interest-group influence could alter the makeup of each caucus, with potentially fewer moderates on the ballot come November.

AFSCME, the state's largest employee union, and other organized labor groups teamed up in an effort to defeat several Democratic House members from Chicago who supported the pension overhaul.

Unions, fearful lawmakers next will turn to cutting municipal employee pensions, poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign of Jhatayn "Jay" Travis, who is challenging state Rep. Christian Mitchell. Likewise, Rep. Toni Berrios of Chicago is being challenged for the second time by journalist Will Guzzardi, and Jaime Andrade, Jr. faces a four challengers, with unions bankrolling the campaign of attorney Nancy Schiavone.

Among Republicans, two of three House members who voted in favor of gay marriage last fall are facing challenges backed by conservative family groups. Rep. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove faces Waubonsee High School teacher Keith Matune and Rep. Ed Sullivan faces bus driver Bob Bednar, both of Mundelein.

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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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