CHICAGO (WLS) -- No matter how miserable the weather, standing in line early to file election petitions is how it's done in Illinois if a candidate wants their name on the ballot, and that's exactly what candidates were doing Monday morning.
"It's democracy in action, I'm excited to be here, this is how the sausage is made," said Alexi Giannoulias, candidate for Illinois Secretary of State.
From big state wide offices down to local ones, petition filing is how election season officially begins. Governor JB Pritzker and Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton boasting about handing in thousands of voter signatures from all 102 Illinois counties.
"We have support from everywhere in the state for what we stand for and that is standing up to working families," Pritzker said.
Pritzker stuck to the Democratic script by emphasizing working families while his Republican opponents pushed issues they hope will rally their base.
"They believe crime is out of control under JB Pritzker," said Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, Republican candidate for governor.
"The days of money supporting and buying the campaigns and politicians are over," said State Sen. Darren Bailey, Republican candidate for governor.
"We really need to restore trust in government," said State Sen. Paul Schimpf, Republican candidate for governor.
Republicans up and down the ticket are likely to use last week's indictment of former House Speaker Michael Madigan as a campaign issue, while Democrats do their best to distance themselves.
"The charges are against Speaker Madigan so he is to be held accountable," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Preckwinkle joined dozens of other candidates Monday morning in Chicago as she filed petitions for re-election, something she has done since her first election in 1983. Cook County Commissioner Dennis Deer was first in line, which will give him a shot at being on top of the ballot in his race.
While it was all smiles today for candidates, petitions also can show the ugly side of politics, especially in crowded competitive races.
"All those people may not stay on the ballot and there is going to be incentive on part of the folks running to knock some of their competitors off the ballot," said ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington.
Petition challenges are also part of the Illinois election cycle tradition. Candidates have until March 14 to file their signatures. The advantage of waiting is reducing the time opponents have to challenge the petitions.