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The high-stakes slugfest between Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican Bruce Rauner isn't the only election story unfolding this summer in Illinois.

From races for state treasurer and comptroller to questions on the ballot about the minimum wage and birth control, voters will have a cornucopia of ballot news to sift through heading into November.

Here's a look at some of the going's on in races further down the ballot.

Green effort wilting?

It appears as if two anti-fracking candidates running for seats in the General Assembly won't make it on the ballot.

Tabitha Tripp is an Anna woman who has taken a high profile role in ongoing efforts to stop an oil and gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing. In June, she filed petitions to get on the November ballot, seeking to unseat state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, in the 118th House District.

Gary Shepherd, a fellow Green Party candidate from Carbondale, filed to run in the 115th House District against two Murphysboro candidates, Democrat Bill Kilquist and Republican Terri Bryant.

Both candidates are being challenged based on the nominating petitions they had to circulate and submit to the Illinois State Board of Elections. Apparently, the petitions are fatally flawed.

The state board could hear their cases on July 21, but Board of Elections chief Rupert Borgsmiller said an unspecified date in early to mid-August is a more likely scenario.

Or, the two could just withdraw.

When I spoke to both candidates last week, neither sounded too upbeat about their prospects.

"We always knew this was going to be a difficult undertaking," said Shepherd, who is a library assistant at SIU's Morris Library.

State election records show neither Tripp or Shepherd have raised any money.

Shepherd said if he's kicked off the ballot, he will begin organizing a write-in campaign for the seat.

Return to action

During his 10 years in the Illinois House and Senate, Republican Shane Cultra of Onarga was known mostly for pushing his red "no" button on what seemed like nearly every proposed law.

Now Cultra is hoping GOP leaders in the 106th House District give him a green light to return to the Statehouse.

Cultra is among four people looking to replace state Rep. Josh Harms on the ballot in November in the heavily Republican 106th House District.

After filing to get on the ballot earlier this year, Harms decided to abandon his fledgling political career, giving party insiders -- not voters -- an opportunity to place a name on the ballot.

Tom Bennett of Gibson City, who finished second to Harms in the March 2012 primary, also is vying for the appointment. Also in the running are Jason Bunting of Dwight, president of the Livingston County Farm Bureau, and Susan Wynn Bence of Watseka, a legislative aide to Harms.

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GOP leaders from the counties making up the district have a weighted vote in deciding who gets the nod. Livingston County Republican Chairman John McGlasson has the most. Cultra, who chairs the Iroquois County party operation, can vote for himself, but needs help from the other Republican chairmen.

Cultra served until 2012, when he was ousted in the Republican primary by state Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington.

Cultra sounded like he was still smarting from that race when I asked him why he was wading back into politics.

"I really wasn't ready to get out when I got out," Cultra said.

"This was an opportunity I didn't expect," he added.

Little from Little

Republicans promised they'd put up a big fight to unseat freshman state Sen. Andy Manar this year.

But so far, his opponent hasn't made a very large splash when it comes to raising the kind of money she'll probably need to finance television ads in the Decatur and Springfield television markets.

Macon County Board member Linda Little of Decatur reported having $4,032 in her campaign account on March 31. The Senate Republican campaign operation has assigned a staffer to work on her campaign, but besides that, records show Little has raised only $1,000 in the most recent fundraising quarter.

Manar, D-Bunker Hill, ended March with more than $404,000 in his bank account and has raised more than $150,000 since then.

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Kurt Erickson can be reached at kurt.erickson@lee.net or 217-782-4043.

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