In addition to Tuesday's closely watched Republican presidential primary, Illinois will also be holding congressional primaries in both parties. And with the state losing one seat -- from 19 congressional districts to 18 -- there are several interesting matchups worth watching Tuesday night:
IL-16 (R-Don Manzullo; north IL counties)
This is a nasty Republican primary that pits two GOP incumbents against each other -- young v. old. Freshman Adam Kinzinger is facing 10-term Rep. Don Manzullo. At age 34 Kinzinger is exactly half the age of 68-year-old Manzullo. The Young Guns PAC of Eric Cantor is backing Kinzinger, and this week the PAC went up with $50,000 in ads against Manzullo.
But while the House GOP leadership seems to favor Kinzinger, it's Manzullo who has played up his Tea Party support and endorsement from FreedomWorks PAC.
Polls from last month showed Manzullo up by double digits, but private polls show the race too close to call. The two congressmen have battled bitterly over who is more fiscally conservative, with Kinzinger saying Manzullo voted to raise the deficit 12 times in his career, while Manzullo counters about his votes to cut the government spending.
IL-8 (R-Joe Walsh) (Chicago northwest suburbs: Schaumburg, Elgin)
This is a totally redrawn district that now strongly favors Democrats. It is the Democrats' best chance to pick up a seat in Illinois, as incumbent freshman Republican Joe Walsh -- a Tea Party favorite -- is expected to lose in November to whomever Democrats end up electing in their primary.
But the Democratic primary is shaping up to be a barn burner. It pits well known disabled Iraq veteran Tammy Duckworth against former Obama campaign adviser Raji Krishnamoorthi.
Krishnamoorthi, a Harvard-educated scientist, lost a close race for Illinois state treasurer in 2010. If Krishnamoorthi wins he would be the first Indian-born member of Congress, but he is up against formidable opponent in Duckworth. Now wheel-chair bound, Duckworth made national headlines when her Blackhawk helicopter was shot down over Iraq in 2004. She nearly won a congressional seat six years ago, and more recently served in the Obama administration in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Though Duckworth has much higher name recognition, and despite calls from David Axelrod to drop out, Krishnamoorthi has run a strong campaign and held his own in fundraising.
IL-2 (D-Jesse Jackson Jr.; South Side Chicago and suburbs)
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is in a surprisingly close Democratic primary, trying to fend off former House member Debbie Halvorson. Redistricting pushed a lot of Halverson's old district into the new 2nd congressional district, even though the district is still over 50% African American.
There is no love lost between Jackson and Halvorson: Halvorson accuses Jackson of being an ineffective member of Congress, and has repeatedly used a long proposed airport project to argue that Jackson hasn’t been able to deliver for his district. Jackson is backed by Nancy Pelosi and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The two candidates have traded barbs over who is more loyal to President Obama. Jackson has run ads saying Halvorson voted against Obama 88 times; Halvorson denies that. Polls are close, but Jackson should survive this primary challenge.
IL-12 (D-Open; SW corner of the state; Carbondale and eastern suburbs of St. Louis)
This is an open seat due to Rep. Jerry Costello's abrupt decision last fall to retire after holding the seat for 22 years.
On the Democratic side, they think they have a strong candidate in former St. Clair County Schools Superintendent Brad Harriman, who has outgoing Rep. Costello's endorsement.
The action will be on the Republican side -- where former Belleville mayor Roger Cook is running against 29 year old millionaire businessman Jason Plummer. Plummer, who was the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor two years ago, is a conservative up and comer.