2024 March Primary: A Capsule of the Contested Races in the Area

By Benjamin Cox on March 19, 2024 at 6:55am

Polls opened at 6 o’clock this morning throughout the state for the primary election.

Compared to the 2020 primary election, this one looks to be more tailored to countywide offices rather than the national stage.


At the federal level, it appears that both parties are going to have a rematch of Donald Trump and Joe Biden. How that somewhat decided rematch effects today’s turnout is anyone’s guess.

The only federal race in the area of consequence is on the Republican primary ballot in the 13th Congressional District, which makes up all of Macoupin and portions of St. Clair, Madison, Sangamon, Piatt, Macon, and Champaign Counties.

31-year old Thomas Clatterbuck, of Champaign and formerly of Jacksonville is in his final semester of law school at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. While in Jacksonville, he worked as a reporter for the now-defunct Springfield Daily online news source. Later, he worked in the Sangamon County Courthouse in Springfield as a deputy clerk and then, while in law school in Champaign, took jobs working for Illinois Senate Republicans and 15th District Congresswoman Mary Miller’s office. Clatterbuck describes himself as center-right.

27-year old Joshua Loyd of Virden runs a photography business with his wife. He served in the Army before attending the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he earned a degree in business management. Loyd got into politics working for two Murphysboro politicians – State Senator Terri Bryant and 12th District Congressman Mike Bost. (Bost is currently facing a high-profile challenge from former Republican gubernatorial candidate and former state legislator Darren Bailey.) Loyd previously ran unsuccessfully as a write-in independent candidate in Illinois’ 7th Congressional District in 2022. Loyd describes himself as a moderate.

The winner of the race moves on to face Democrat incumbent Nikki Budzinski in November.


In statewide races for the Illinois General Assembly, the only competitive race is for the 99th Legislative District. Current 99th district representative Republican Randy Frese of Paloma announced in September that he would be retiring from the General Assembly after 5 terms in office.

Within two days of Frese’s announcement, former Quincy Mayor and current President of the Great River Economic Development Foundation, 43-year old Kyle Moore announced his bid for the seat and immediately received Frese’s blessing.

Cass County District 1 Board member Eric Snellgrove of Beardstown announced a month later that he also would be seeking the Republican nomination. The 36-year old Snellgrove is an Alabama National Guard veteran of the War in Afghanistan, single parent, and small business owner and has been operating his campaign without a campaign committee through self-funding.

The winner of the race will likely face no opposition in November.

County Races

Morgan County – Morgan County has 3 contested races on the Republican primary ballot. Long-time Morgan County Commissioner Ginny Fanning announced in October she would not seek re-election for a fourth full-term in office, having served since 2014.

Retired insurance salesman and current long-time Jacksonville School District 117 Board member Mike Lonergan, car dealership owner Donny “Racer” Wood, insurance salesman Tim Hughes, and area farmer and trucking business owner Garrett Waggener are all vying for the Republican nomination.

The winner on the ticket will face off with lone Democrat candidate Dr. Michael Woods in November.

Morgan County Coroner Marcy Patterson has served the county since the resignation of long-time coroner Jeff Lair back in 2019. Patterson, who has worked in the Morgan County Coroner’s office since 2010, is seeking her second full term.

Patterson is being challenged by Morgan County Sheriff’s Department bailiff and paramedic Alan McClellan. The winner will likely face no challenger in November.

The most interesting race of the night deals with the Circuit Clerk’s position. Currently, Morgan County has no official Circuit Clerk after the untimely passing of appointed Circuit Clerk Julia Anderson on February 5th after a battle with cancer. With Anderson’s unexpected death so close to election time, her name remains on the ballot and voters are still allowed to posthumously elect her to the office.

Morgan County Clerk Jill Waggener and the Morgan County Republican Party would have to get their heads together if that happens to decide on who will be appointed to fill the position if Anderson wins.

Challenger Jennifer Bonjean, who was a long-time Deputy Clerk in the office under Amy Sipes, also is seeking the win.

It’s a race we will watch with a close eye throughout the night once results come in, as it could trigger that very intensive process or not.

Greene County – Greene County has just one competitive race in the primary. Three-term State’s Attorney Caleb Briscoe said in November that he would not be seeking reelection, citing his wish to spend more time with his family.

Two candidates stepped forward in the following months to seek election on the Republican ticket. 57-year old Donnie Schaaf of Carrollton has been practicing law in Central Illinois for over three decades. Schaaf has previously served as a precinct committeeman, a Jerseyville City commissioner, a member of the Rotary Club, and as an Illinois High School Association official.

Dayna Church-Switzer is a Jerseyville-based private attorney that regularly works in Greene County. Switzer has over two decades of law practice experience, and previously worked for the Unsell Law Firm in East Alton, as well as in the St. Louis Metro East and in the Indianapolis area.

Illinois law does not have residency requirements for state’s attorneys, only that they be U.S. Citizens and licensed to practice law in the state.

Other counties – In Brown County, Republicans will choose from Niki Maxwell and Brooke Robinson for nominees for Circuit Clerk. Maxwell is the current business office manager and human resources, payroll, and employee ambassador for Mt. Sterling Health & Rehab Center. Robinson is a billing clerk for the City of Mt. Sterling and has served 10 years as the deputy circuit clerk. Both are seeking to unseat Democrat incumbent Rhonda Johnson in November.

Five candidates are vying for four full-term positions on the Brown County Board. Incumbents Courtney Garfield, Robert Willis, Karl Groesch, and Mark Yingling are hoping to keep their seats. They have one challenger – Robert Akright. Official write-in candidate Michael Myers is opting for an unexpired two-year term.

Pike County’s Board also has 3 seats up for election and 4 candidates. Incumbents Jim Sheppard, Joseph Cobb, and Derek Ross have one challenger – Lance Kendrick.

In Macoupin County, long-time Circuit Judge and former Chief Judge of the 7th Circuit, Kenneth Diehl, announced at the end of last year he would be retiring at the end of his term on November 30th of this year. Diehl has served on the bench in Macoupin County since 2006. Three Carlinville-based attorneys have stepped forward to become his replacement on the Republican ticket – Aaron Bellm, Tom Denby, and Jonathan Verticchio.


Waverly – Waverly area voters in Morgan County will have the lone ballot question. The questions ask if the Waverly Fire Protection District should be established as a government body with a tax extension not to exceed $190,000 for the 2024 levy year. It would create a taxing body to help the Waverly Volunteer Fire & Ambulance Service continue to pay for equipment upgrades and operations. There has been some push back on the referendum at a pair of public meetings, as several area residents have asked about how the new taxing body would effect property taxes, and also about questions of where past fundraiser money has gone and how it is currently being spent.