Pension, gay marriage votes stir primary contests

Tim Butler exits a polling station after filling out his ballot as early voting opens across Illinois for the up coming primary elections, at the Sangamon County Building Monday, March 3, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. Early voting opened across Illinois on Monday. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Tim Butler exits a polling station after filling out his ballot as early voting opens across Illinois for the up coming primary elections, at the Sangamon County Building Monday, March 3, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. Early voting opened across Illinois on Monday. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Several state lawmakers face challenges in the March 18 primary election because of high-profile votes for cutting state worker retirement benefits or legalizing gay marriage.

In each case, unions or other interest groups are working against their re-election bids.

The targeted challenges are among the toughest primary races in a year in which all 118 House seats and a third of the 59 Senate seats are on the ballot. Overall, there are 27 House primary contests, and just two in the Senate.

Democrats have a good chance of holding their veto-proof supermajorities in each chamber this year. But experts say intra-party challenges and interest group influence could alter the makeup of each caucus.

Democrats have 71 seats to Republicans’ 47 in the House, and a 40-19 margin in the Senate.

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