Although there is still more than a year before Illinoisans begin casting ballots for governor, US Senate, and other offices, Illinois Libertarian Party Candidate Lupe Diaz will be making his case for Illinois' highest office.
A former Libertarian Party (LP) chairman, Diaz used his announcement to target both major parties. Saying that the state is "in a helpless morass of debt due to fiscal mismanagement," Diaz began making his case that more electoral choices are needed:
"We need a true alternative for governor in the State of Illinois. . . . the last time I checked, all of our state-wide elected officials were either Democrats or Republicans, and where has that left us? It is time to get rid of career politicians and elect hard working citizens who will have the interests of the people of Illinois at heart."
This summer, the Illinois LP filed a brief with a US District Court to obtain ballot access for the party. This challenged the state requirement that the party must put forward a full slate of candidates in order to be eligible. It is still ongoing.
It would also not be the first time Diaz had to fight for ballot access. In 2010, the LP under Diaz had to go to court, but its signatures were deemed valid. Diaz said at the time, "This vindicates our efforts." Under his leadership as his party's chairman, the party placed seven candidates on statewide ballots in 2010.
In the 2010 elections, onerous ballot access restrictions forced another minor party, the Constitution Party, to withdraw from some of the races. Many of its signatures were ruled ineligible.
In 2010, Republicans thought they had a good opportunity to unseat Governor Quinn while the state's Democratic Party was still reeling from the impeachment of Rod Blagojevich.
When the ballots were cast that year, Quinn prevailed with 46.7% over Republican challenger Bill Brady's 45.9%. The LP's Lex Green pulled 34,681 votes and just short of 1%.
The presence of a Libertarian candidate could cause some consternation to the major parties. This could be true for the state's Republican Party, fueling the popular notion that a Libertarian candidate siphons votes from the GOP. Although not all Libertarian votes hurt the GOP, Green's total was more than the margin of difference between Quinn and Brady.
So far, a number of Republicans have already declared for the race. The most prominent, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, leads early polling among Republicans.
Democratic Governor Pat Quinn has declared for re-election. He is seeking his second full term after succeeding the impeached Blagojevich in 2009. Quinn's most serious competition to date is Bill Daley, a former chief of staff in the Obama White House and brother of former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley. Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whom many thought would challenge Quinn in the primary, decided to run for another term in her current position.
Illinois' largest city, Chicago, is often featured as one of the worst for "nanny state" laws and regulations. If Diaz, or any other Libertarian, makes it to the final ballot and can receive media access, he will likely have ample targets for his campaign. However, significant hurdles still remain for any non-major party candidate.