With almost a half-year to go before the primary, Democratic candidates for the Illinois house seat representing Evanston have already raised more than $65,000 for the campaign.

With almost a half-year to go before the primary, Democratic candidates for the Illinois house seat representing Evanston have already raised more than $65,000 for the campaign.

Reports filed with the state board of elections show that Eamon Kelly, 29, is leading the fund-raising derby with $36,000 in cash and in-kind contributions.

Jeff Smith, 52, is not far behind with $29,000 raised.

Both are way ahead of Patrick Keenan-Devlin, 25, who reported raising just over $100 as of June 30, the cutoff date for the finance reports to the state due this week.

All three candidates are from Evanston.


Both of the leaders in the race have been trolling widely for campaign funds, with reports showing about 89 percent of Kelly’s itemized contributions and 52 percent of Smith’s coming from people listing addresses outside the district.

In-district contributions have come exclusively from Evanston and Rogers Park, with none from the more conservative precincts in Kenilworth, Glencoe, Wilmette and Winnetka.

All three candidates have been using the ActBlue online fund-raising hub for Democratic candidates.

As of today, the ActBlue website reports:

  • 154 contributions to Kelly totaling $29,665.
  • 40 contributions to Smith totaling $5,355.
  • 30 contributions to Keenan-Devlin totaling $4,014.

In the state records, large contributors to the Smith campaign include the candidate himself at $2,400, former Evanston alderman Steve Engelman at $2,300 and Victor and Modesta Smith of Park Ridge at a total of $4,800.

Eight people, none from within the district, have contributed $1,000 or more to Kelly’s campaign. Most of those donors listed their occupation as attorney.

The 18th District house seat is currently held by Julie Hamos, who has indicated she plans to run for statewide office next year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. On the Campaign Trail with Jeff Smith
    The graph above about in-district v. out-of-district money reinforce what I’ve seen of this race. I’ve been working with Jeff Smith for several weeks now. This is my third campaign in a state representative race. Those are always both challenging and rewarding, because they’re so local. But this one is unusual, and I wanted others in this community to know why.

    This last Saturday, Sunday, and Monday I accompanied Jeff while he met and greeted hundreds of residents on the West Side of Evanston, at a Farmers Market, at the Winnetka sidewalk sale, at public events in downtown Evanston and on the lakefront, and at a meeting in Rogers Park. I’ve seen candidates before who could work a crowd of strangers, or had some name recognition. What I’ve never seen is a candidate being greeted, over and over again, by people who already knew him(!) because of his connection to the community. Not knew “of” him — knew him. If Jeff said hi to a dozen folks, invariably one of them was a neighbor, a former student, the parent or sibling of a chess or baseball player he’d coached, a business owner he knows, someone he’d worked with on a local plan, or a volunteer he’d campaigned with on some grassroots cause. People seeing my campaign t-shirt or Jeff’s sticker walked over on their own and said hi, reminding him of their connection and updating him on what they’re doing. If the voter had never met Jeff, usually they had a mutual friend or common link from one of his community activities.

    One of the reason campaigns can get expensive is because unknowns have to spend a lot of money to create an image, like marketing a new brand of soda pop. If you don’t know the territory, you have to spend a lot on polling and focus groups to try and figure out the constituents. I feel lucky to be instead working on a real movement for someone who has a real base in the community, based on decades of involvement. If Jeff is elected “representative,” I know he truly will be.

  2. On the Campaign Trail with Eamon Kelly
    Over the past couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to work with and observe Eamon Kelly as he kicks off his campaign for State Representative of the 18th District. It has been an extraordinary period of time, because I’ve gotten to known Eamon Kelly, the candidate, and hear about the issues he cares about and watch him listen to people in the 18th talk about the issues they care about. What is particularly exciting to me is that someone who was my classmate at Dewey Elementary School, Nichols Middle School, and ETHS is now running for state office. He brings to this race a knowledge of a new generation of engaged Evanstonians. On top of this he has added experience working in state government in Springfield.

    In an early start to the political “silly season,” some candidates and their supporters seem to want to play the game how much of an Evanstonian are you. Too often this gets counted as years lived in Evanston or how many long-time friends living in Evanston give you campaign money. It is a game that seems to say that if you are young, energetic, born-and-raised in the local community, and have some innovative ideas that is not enough in a world where wisdom and capabilities are simplistically equated to years lived in a community. Only a few months since the remarkable political events of last November some seem to have forgotten how new ideas, new faces, and new approaches are welcome changes to many residents.

    In challenging economic and political times where business as usual does not work any more, let’s keep the focus on new ideas, creativity, and a vision for the future. The same old posturing to avoid serious consideration of the difficult road ahead of us is merely a distraction, a waste of time, and an implicit critic of the new ideas and new energy being brought to the table by Eamon Kelly.

  3. Actually…
    As Jeff once wrote about blogging, “What we need more of, among the like-minded, is to read our colleagues’ posts with a mindset that extends the benefit of the doubt rather than reflexively nitpicks, or takes a word in the worst possible way.” I didn’t mention your friend in my post, but I think you missed the point. Longevity is not the issue. My observation was about the cumulative effect of Jeff’s community engagement, and the value of that to a campaign. The people greeting Jeff mostly aren’t his social circle or schoolmates. They are people whose lives have touched his, or vice versa.

    Jeff didn’t write the article about campaign money, or send out a single press release about fundraising. Quite the opposite, Jeff thinks it’s a poor metric, and has spoken eloquently about the corrosive effect of money in politics. See the video from his announcement speech, or some of his writings on reform at

    Finally, Jeff has a proven track record of encouraging young people to get involved in politics, and standing up for their rights to vote, to have a say in electing representatives of their choice, and even to run for office. Jeff Smith has the new ideas that we need and the energy to make them happen.

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