Miller, Newman Push Potential Gains for Women in Illinois Congressional Delegation


Congressional primaries were held on Tuesday in Illinois. The Ohio primary was postponed due to a state of emergency. Full context about women in the 2020 elections, including candidate lists, summaries, results from previous primaries, and historical comparisons, are available via the Center for American Women and Politics’ (CAWP) Election Watch.

Among the most notable results for women:

  • In Illinois’ 3rd district, Marie Newman (D) defeated the incumbent of her own party, Dan Lipinski.
    • This was the first defeat of an incumbent in the 2020 election cycle.
    • She lost to Lipinski in the 2018 primary by 2 points.
    • This seat is currently rated “Solid Democratic” by Cook Political Report, meaning this is a likely gain for Democratic women in the House.
  • Mary Miller (R) won her nomination for a House seat in Illinois’ 15th district. Cook Political Report categorizes this seat as “Solid Republican,” making this a likely gain for Republican women in November.
  • There are woman vs. woman races in three Illinois districts (2nd, 15th, 17th).
  • Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (D) won her nomination for the 13th district and will run against incumbent Rodney L. Davis (R).
    • This seat is rated as “Toss Up Republican” by Cook.


U.S. Senate

  • Just 1 (1R) woman – Peggy Hubbard – was on the ballot for the U.S. Senate in Illinois this year. She lost her bid to challenge Democratic incumbent Senator Dick Durbin in November.
  • 2 (2D) women have served in the U.S. Senate from Illinois. Tammy Duckworth (D) is currently serving in the U.S. Senate. Carol Moseley-Braun (D), who was the first Black woman in the U.S. Senate, represented Illinois in the U.S. Senate from 1993-1998.

U.S. House

Women are currently 4 (4D) of 18 members of the Illinois delegation to the U.S. House.

Women are 14 of 34 (41.2%) major-party nominees for U.S. House in Illinois, including 8 of 17 (47.1%) Democrats and 6 of 17 (35.3%) Republicans. A total of 9 women (6D, 3R) women House candidates were unsuccessful in their bid for a U.S. House nomination.

  • All 4 (4D) of the current incumbent women are running for re-election and each will be nominees in November. Robin Kelly (IL-02), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) are strongly favored for re-election according to the Cook Political Report. Cook categorizes Freshman Representative Lauren Underwood’s (IL-14) seat as “Toss Up Democratic,” making it the only Illinois race with an incumbent Democratic woman currently deemed competitive.
  • Of the 6 (6D) women running as challengers to members of their own party in Illinois primaries, 1 (1D) – Marie Newman – was successful in Illinois’ 3rd congressional district. Newman, who previously challenged incumbent Representative Dan Lipinski (D) in 2018 and lost by just 2 points, won this year to become the first candidate to defeat an incumbent this election cycle. The general election in IL-03 is now an open seat race.
  • 2 (1D, 1R) women are nominees for the other open U.S. House seat in Illinois’ 15th congressional district. In a district that strongly favors Republicans, Mary Miller (R) is favored to win against Erika Weaver (D). Miller’s nomination and strong chances to win in November position her as a likely pick-up for Republican women in the House in 2021.
  • 8 (3D, 5R) women candidates were nominated to challenge U.S. House incumbents from Illinois in November. Only 2 (1D, 1R) are running in contests currently deemed competitive by Cook Political Report. Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (D), who was the Democratic nominee for the same seat in 2018, will challenge Republican incumbent Representative Rodney L. Davis (R) in Illinois’ 13th congressional district, which is currently rated as “Toss Up Republican” by Cook. Dirksen Londrigan lost to Davis in 2018 by less than one point. 2018 gubernatorial primary candidate Jeanne Ives (R) is the Republican nominee for Illinois’ 6th congressional district and will challenge incumbent Democratic Sean Casten in a seat currently rated “Lean Democratic.”
  • There are three woman vs. woman races in Illinois’ 2nd, 15th, and 17th congressional districts. Republican women nominees will challenge Democratic women incumbents in Illinois’ 3rd (Democratic incumbent Robin Kelly v. Republican challenger Theresa Raborn) and 17th (Democratic incumbent Cheri Bustos v. Republican challenger Esther Joy King), with both Democratic incumbents favored to win. In Illinois’ 15th congressional district, Mary Miller (R) and Erika Weaver (D) will compete for an open seat that strongly favors Miller.

Of the 14 (8D, 6R) women who are major-party nominees for the U.S. House in Illinois, 5 (3D, 2R) are women of color. Erika Weaver (D, IL-15), Lauren Underwood (D, IL-14), Robin Kelly (D, IL-2), and Philanise White (R, IL-1) all identify as Black women. Valerie Ramirez Makherjee (R, IL-10) identifies as both Hispanic and White.

There are no statewide executive elections in Illinois this year.

CAWP Staff