An Illinois gubernatorial candidate with experience as mayor of a suburb that is also the state’s second largest city

Without getting into the particular politics of Richard Irvin’s campaign for Illinois governor, it is worth noting the position from which he approaches his run: as mayor of Aurora, Illinois, the largest suburb in the Chicago region and the second largest city in Illinois. Some notes about Aurora and what leading that city might mean for leading Illinois:

-Aurora has unique history. With its location roughly 40 miles outside downtown Chicago, it has an industrial background with its location on the Fox River and its railroad connections. For Naperville residents at the turn of the 20th century, a trip to Aurora along the rail line was a big deal.

-The city experienced a renaissance in recent decades plus high population growth between 1980 and 2010 – going from over 81,000 residents to over 197,000 residents – before a slight downturn in the 2010s to a population of just over 180,000.

-That population growth means Aurora is now solidly the second largest city in Illinois.

-It is a racially diverse suburb with 2021 Census estimates putting the population at 42.7% Latino, 34.9% White alone, 10.5% Black, and 9.3% Asian.

-A relatively recent rebranding campaign took the city’s longtime motto of “The City of Lights” and updated it.

In advertisements, Irvin has highlighted his experience as a mayor of a decent sized city. A governor’s race between a politician identified with Chicago and another identified with the biggest suburb and second biggest city could present some interesting contrasts.

Route to primary win for Republicans in Illinois governor’s race runs through the Chicago suburbs

A pattern has emerged as Republican candidates for Illinois governor: each ticket includes someone from a Chicago collar county.

Wheaton City Council member Evelyn Pacino Sanguinetti will be Republican governor hopeful Bruce Rauner’s running mate, he announced this morning.

The daughter of an immigrant from Ecuador and refugee from Cuba, Sanguinetti is in her first term on the Wheaton council and worked as an assistant attorney general under Republican Jim Ryan…

His pick puts a suburban name on every Republican ticket for governor.

State Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington chose former Long Grove Mayor Maria Rodriguez as his running mate, and Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford chose businessman Steve Kim of Northbrook. Dillard picked state Rep. Jil Tracy of Quincy.

Additionally, the main Republican primary candidates (Rauner, Brady, Rutherford, and Dillard) are all white males who selected a running mate who is not a white male: three women and a man who is “potentially the first Asian American to hold state office.”

So the strategy appears clear: try to win the suburban Republican vote, particularly in the populous Lake County and DuPage County, and appeal to various demographics (Illinois is now 71.5% white, 15.8% Latino, 14.5% black, and 4.6% Asian American). Expect to see the Republican candidates plenty in the Chicago suburbs in the months ahead…