Cost to Peoria County for primary and general election could reach $80,000

PEORIA — The 18th Congressional District will have a new representative by mid-summer.

A special election to fill the seat U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock is vacating is to be held no later than July, according to state law.

Schock’s resignation is effective March 31. Within five days after that, Gov. Bruce Rauner is to set a date for the special election, according to Steve Sandvoss, executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The election is to be held within 115 days of the date Rauner’s office issues its notice to the clerks of the 19 counties in the 18th District, Sandvoss said. That notice is to include a date for a primary election.

Nothing in state law mandates a date for the primary, nor does the election have to be on a Tuesday, Sandvoss said.

“We just found out about this an hour ago,” Sandvoss said Tuesday from Springfield when asked about the vacancy. “We’re scrambling to figure out the time frames involved.”

Whoever is elected would fill the 18th District seat through January 2017, the end of Schock’s two-year term.

The cost to Peoria County for a primary and a general election could be between $75,000 and $80,000, said Steve Sonnemaker, county clerk. That doesn’t include election costs in the city of Peoria.

“If Steve said it was $75,000 to $80,000 for the county’s part, I would say that the total cost is probably double that for both elections,” said Tom Bride, executive director of the Peoria Election Commission.

Bride said he should have expense estimates within the next few days.

The additional expense doesn’t help Peoria County finances, which are strained because of flat revenues and a possible reduction in state funding.

“In a year when state revenues are almost certain to decrease, the increased cost of an unanticipated and unbudgeted election is particularly difficult,” County Administrator Lori Curtis Luther said.

Special elections to fill congressional seats have been held in Illinois three times over the past eight years.

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert resigned in 2007, about one year after Republicans lost control of that chamber. A Democrat, Bill Foster, won the special election to replace Hastert. Foster now represents a different suburban-Chicago seat in Congress.

In 2009, Mike Quigley was elected to replace Rahm Emanuel, a fellow Democrat who resigned from Congress to become White House chief of staff. Emanuel now is Chicago mayor.

Bradley University graduate Robin Kelly won a special election in 2013 to represent another Chicago-area district. She replaced Jesse Jackson Jr., like Kelly, a Democrat. Jackson resigned and later admitted to using campaign funds to make personal purchases.

Nick Vlahos can be reached at 686-3285 or nvlahos@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @VlahosNick. Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 or akravetz@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @andykravetz.