Could Jesse White face primary challenger?

Sen. Hastings files for Secretary of State

SPRINGFIELD, Ill (WCIA) -- State Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park) showed up mere minutes before Monday night's filing deadline and submitted petitions to run for Secretary of State. 

In doing so, Hastings' bold move has already ruffled some feathers within the state Democratic Party. 

"Secretary White is 83 years old, and he's a great man," Hastings said. "He's done an awesome job for the office, but with the rumors of him retiring coming and retiring again, I wasn't sure if he was going to run." 

The incumbent's campaign says White left Hastings a personal voicemail on Monday morning assuring him that he does indeed intend to run for reelection. The campaign says Hastings never called back.

"He filed his petitions on (last) Monday," Hastings explained, "but there was also notable candidates who filed on Monday who withdrew their candidacy. In life, for me, whether it's politics or business, the only way you're successful is if you're prepared. I wanted to make sure I was prepared if Jesse was to retire or if somebody was to submit petitions at the last minute. We had heard rumors of that and we wanted to make sure we were prepared to give voters a choice because that's what democracy is all about." 

Reporter: "To be clear, if White does not withdraw, will you oppose him in the primary?"

Hastings: "We're going to move forward here and then we'll see. We're going to have a conversation this week with the Secretary. We're going to see if anyone else files today before we talk about that. 

Reporter: Is there any room for improvement at the Secretary of State's office? 

Hastings: There's room for improvement in everything that we do. If we have an opportunity to serve as Secretary of State, we're going to do a great job for the people of Illinois. 

Reporter: Will you rule out the idea of opposing Jesse White in a primary? 

Hastings: Right now, we want to see who files the rest of the day today, and then we're going to make a determination. 

No other candidates filed to run in the Democratic primary. Sources close to Hastings indicate he was concerned White could withdraw after the petition process was complete, allowing the state party to slate a chosen candidate, propelling them directly to the general election next November. This maneuver by Hastings forces his name into consideration and it comes with little risk since state law does not require him to vacate the remaining two years left in his Senate seat to run for another office. 

Grundy County State's Attorney Jason Helland filed to run as a Republican earlier in the week. J.C. Griffin missed the deadline by more than two hours, posting this explanation to Twitter: 

Hastings would not weigh in on the developments in the Republican race, except to say that "I think everybody's entitled to run for office. I think democracy is a great thing. One way or another, people get to choose between the candidates that are on the ballot and I encourage them to do so." 

After the deadline passed, Hastings said in a text message, "I never said I wanted to run against Secretary White." He added, "Our offices are in communication with each other and I am sure you will hear more soon." 


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