Chirico Backs Biden

In a post made yesterday to his Facebook account, Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico (a Republican) included a picture of the yard signs he is displaying; Grant Wehrli for State Rep (R, District 41), Kevin Coyne for DuPage County Board (R, District 5) and Joe Biden/Kamala Harris for President. The post attracted over 500 comments and was shared to a Joe Biden for Illinois Facebook group. Chirico explained his ticket splitting in the post, stating that the national Republican and state Democratic parties both have a “serious character and ethics problem.” His choice shouldn’t come as a huge surprise; Chirico stated in a 2016 Tribune article that he wouldn’t vote for Trump in that election.

In 2016, Trump massively underperformed downballot Republicans in DuPage County; downballot Democrats performed much better in 2018, despite Rauner losing DuPage by a much narrower margin. Biden is hoping to replicate Clinton’s suburban performance in more competitive states across the country, and Democrats in DuPage only have to run somewhat close to Biden in order to win. Naperville precincts went almost uniformly for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Wehrli and Coyne, the Republicans that Chirico displays signs for, are running in districts that have recently trended strongly towards Democrats. Wehrli won re-election by 4% in 2018 against a challenger with serious problems (such as living outside the district and being ineligible to serve if elected). Wehrli’s challenger this year, District 203 School Board member Janet Yang Rohr, is very well funded by the state Democratic party. Clinton carried District 41 by 16% in 2016, and as the downballot advantage for Republicans continues to erode, the evidence suggests that Wehrli will not outperform Trump enough to win.

Coyne, a Naperville City Councilman running for the District 5 open seat, also faces a mathematical problem to overcome (Clinton won 161/164 precincts in his district). This was reflected by him picking up Naperville candidate packets when they became available in late August- not exactly a sign of confidence that he will be in a new office and not have to worry about running for re-election to the city council.

It is far too bold for me to say that all elected Republicans in DuPage are going to lose… but looking at the data (especially comparing the number of Democratic primary ballots casted in March to previous years), it appears that split ticket voters like Chirico do not exist in the same numbers as only 4 years ago.

—Nick Mastro

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