Key Primary Results in Illinois and Ohio

March 20, 2024 · 12:18 AM EDT

By Jacob Rubashkin and Nathan L. Gonzales

Another Tuesday and another set of congressional primary results. Republican voters in Ohio chose a nominee in one of the most important Senate races in the country, chose nominees in a couple competitive House races, and a couple nominees who will likely be members of Congress from solidly Republican districts. Primary voters in Illinois made their decision on a trio of incumbents.

These aren’t all the primary results, but the ones that have general election consequences or effectively chose a member of Congress. 

20th District (Eastern Central Valley from the Bakersfield to Fresno areas) Vacant; Kevin McCarthy, R, resigned. Trump 61%.
State Assemblyman Vince Fong (who has support from McCarthy) will move on to the May 21 special general election. Fong will face either Republican Mike Boudreaux or Democrat Marisa Wood in that race. A couple weeks ago, Fong and Boudreaux finished in the top two regular primary and will face each other in the regular general election. The special election is just to fill the remainder of the term. Solid Republican. 

7th District (West Side and downtown Chicago) Danny Davis, D, uncontested. Biden 86%.
The 82-year-old congressman received 52 percent in the 2022 Democratic primary and he’s on pace to receive 53 percent this year, with 71 percent of the estimated vote counted. After winning by just 6 points last cycle over gun violence prevention advocate Kira Collins, Davis won with a similar share of the vote but by a wider margin on Tuesday with multiple credible challengers. City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin received 22 percent followed by Collins with 18 percent. Joe Biden won the district by 73 points in 2020, so this was the most important race. Solid Democratic.

11th District (Southwestern outer suburbs of Chicago and collar county exurbs) Bill Foster, D, re-elected 56%. Biden 56%. Foster prevailed, 77-23 percent over challenger Qasim Rashid (who previously ran for office in Virginia), in a race that received minimal attention heading into Tuesday. It’s a remarkably similar margin to Texas Rep. Lizzie Fletcher’s primary victory on Super Tuesday against a challenger who also tried to make Israel and Gaza a key campaign issue. Solid Democratic.

12th District (Southern Illinois and southeastern St. Louis exurbs) Mike Bost, R, re-elected 75%. Trump 71%. Although the race hasn’t officially been called, former state legislator/2022 gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey has conceded to Bost. The congressman leads Bailey 52-48 percent with 75 percent of the estimated vote counted. Bost had a significant spending advantage and Trump’s endorsement, but Bailey had positive, residual name ID from his unsuccessful run for governor and past support from Trump that he put front and center of his campaign. A Bost victory is a loss for Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (who endorsed Bailey) and other provocative Republicans on Capitol Hill. Solid Republican.

Ohio Senate.
Sherrod Brown (D) elected 2006 (56%), 2012 (51%), 2018 (53%).
Former luxury car salesman and entrepreneur Bernie Moreno won a resounding victory in the GOP primary with 51 percent of the vote, finishing ahead of state Sen. Matt Dolan (33 percent) and state Secretary of State Frank LaRose (17 percent). Moreno, who also ran for Senate in 2022, was endorsed by Trump and survived a late-breaking story linking him to an account on an adult website.

Brown has proven his statewide electability, but Ohio continues to shift toward Republicans. In 2018, Republicans had a 9.6-point advantage (53.6-44.1 percent). That shifted to an 11-point advantage after the 2022 elections, 54.8-43.8 percent. Those subtle shifts can be important in close races. 

In 2018, Brown had a Vote Above Replacement score of 9.3. If Ohio doesn't shift any further toward Republicans and he overperforms by the same amount, then he'd be at a solid 53.1 percent. But there's no guarantee the state won't shift further toward Republicans and Brown won't have the same financial advantage he enjoyed in 2018. 

Brown outspent GOP Rep. Jim Renacci more than 2:1, $28 million to $13 million, and the Republican congressman didn’t get significant help from the NRSC or Senate Leadership Fund. This cycle, Moreno should be a better fundraiser than Renacci and Republicans are fully committed to spending what it takes in Ohio and Montana to gain the second seat they need for a majority. West Virginia will be the first. 

If Ohio shifts a point more toward Republicans in Baseline and Brown slips to a VAR score closer to some of his other over-performing colleagues such as Wisconsin's Tammy Baldin (6.5) or Montana's Jon Tester (5.2), then Brown would likely lose re-election. Toss-up.

Ohio House.
2nd District (Southern Ohio and eastern Cincinnati suburbs) Open; Brad Wenstrup, R, not seeking re-election. Trump 72%.
Concrete company owner David Taylor won a crowded and expensive primary with just 25 percent and will likely be a member of Congress next year. Businessman Tim O'Hara finished second with 22 percent, followed by staffing company owner Larry Kidd (19 percent), Shane Wilkin (10 percent), Ron Hood (9 percent), and six others. Due to the GOP nature of the seat, Taylor will be the prohibitive favorite over Democrat Samantha Meadows in the general election. Meadows lost to Wenstrup by 49 points in 2022. Solid Republican.

6th District (Southeastern Ohio and Youngstown area) Open; Bill Johnson, R, resigned Jan. 21 to become president of Youngstown State University. Trump 64%. State Sen. Michael Rulli won the special GOP primary with 49 percent and is the prohibitive favorite to win the special general election on June 11. He should be sworn in soon after, giving Speaker Mike Johnson a small piece of his narrow majority back for the remainder of the year. State Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus was second with 41 percent in the special primary, followed by chiropractor Rick Tsai (10 percent). The results were similar in the regular primary election. Solid Republican.

9th District (Toledo area and northwestern Ohio) Marcy Kaptur, D, re-elected 57%. Trump 51%. A roller coaster GOP primary ended anticlimactically, with state Rep. Derek Merrin outpacing former state Rep. Craig Riedel, 53-34 percent. Merrin received a late endorsement from Trump, but the biggest development in the race came a few weeks ago when 2022 nominee JR Majewski dropped out of the race for the second time. Republican strategists saw Majewski as uniquely unelectable, given reporting that he misrepresented his military background. Kaptur is a top Republican target but has deep ties to the district. Lean Democratic.

13th District (Akron and Canton areas) Emilia Sykes, D, elected 53%. Biden 51%. Former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin easily beat Hudson City Councilman Chris Banweg, 65-27 percent in the Republican primary and will face Sykes this fall. Sykes has a significant cash advantage and this race is yet to break into the top tier. Tilt Democratic.