Congressional: Democrats Hope to Extend Their Slight Majority in the IL Congressional Delegation
Democrats hope to extend their slight majority in the Illinois congressional delegation, and the outcome of the February 5 primary races will play a role.
Three incumbent congressmen are retiring: J. Dennis Hastert of Plano, Ray LaHood of Peoria and Jerry Weller of Morris, leaving wide open contests in those districts. The Democrats have a 233-202 edge in the House after a 2006 sweep. In Illinois, Democrats hold 10 congressional seats while Republicans hold nine. Democrats look to the retirements, as well as the increasingly blue nature of suburbia as a chance to gain four more seats come November.
The National Republican Congressional Committee had just $1.6 million on hand, with a $3.85 million debt, on September 30, the last campaign finance disclosure date. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had $28.3 million on hand, with a $3 million debt.
Here are the hottest races:
Rep. Daniel Lipinski of Western Springs faces opposition from multiple fellow Democrats in his district, which runs through Chicago’s Southwest Side and the southwest suburbs. They are Palos Hills Mayor Jerry Bennett, Army officer Jim Capparelli and Mark Pera, a former prosecutor from Western Springs.
Also running are Republicans Arthur Jones of Chicago and Michael Hawkins of Bridgeview and Greens Richard Mayers of Berwyn and Jerome Pohlen of Berwyn.
Two Democrats are competing for the chance to face Republican Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton, who is running unopposed in the west suburban district. They are Stan Jagla of Roselle and U.S. Army Reserve Ret. Col. Jill Morgenthaler of Des Plaines, who left her post as homeland security adviser to Gov. Rod Blagojevich to run for Congress.
Democrat Melissa Bean holds a seat that was held for a generation by Republican Phil Crane. This district is expansive, reaching from tiny Hebron in northern McHenry County south through Woodstock, McHenry, Wauconda and Lake Zurich to eastern Elgin, east along the state line to Winthrop Harbor and Zion, then southeast into Gurnee, Grayslake and Mundelein.
Republican candidates are Steve Greenberg, a businessman and former professional hockey player from Long Grove; Republican Kenneth Arnold, a human resources and employee benefits consultant from Gurnee: and Kirk Morris, a Gurnee man who lost his son to the Iraq war. Arnold ran unsuccessfully in 2006.
Bean also is facing a Democratic primary challenge from artist Randi Scheurer of Lindenhurst. Iain Abernathy, a Moderate Party candidate from Round Lake Beach, also is running.
Republican Rep. Mark Kirk of Highland Park represents a district leaning Democratic. Daniel Seals, a Democratic business consultant and former GE Capital executive from Wilmette, is trying again to oust Kirk, but he must first contend with Buffalo Grove’s Jay Footlik, a former White House adviser. David Kalbfleisch, a Green Party candidate from Arlington Heights, also is running,
The 10th District stretches along the lake shore from Waukegan through Lake Forest and Highland Park to Winnetka, Kenilworth and Wilmette, and west into Libertyville, Vernon Hills, Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Northbrook and Glenview.
In this district, which stretches from the far southwest suburbs south to Bloomington, Republicans in the race to fill the seat held by Weller are New Lenox Mayor Timothy Baldermann, airline pilot Terry Heenan of New Lenox and former White House staffer Jimmy Lee of North Utica. Running unopposed are Democratic State Sen. Debbie Halvorson of Crete and Green Party candidate Jason Wallace of Normal.
In the 14th District, hopefuls include perennial candidate Jim Oberweis, the ice cream magnate from Sugar Grove, and state Sen. Chris Lauzen of Aurora. Michael Dilger from Evanston — who lives some 10 municipalities beyond the district’s eastern edge — filed petitions to run, too. The district runs from Elgin, St. Charles, West Chicago and Batavia to Aurora, taking in Kane and Kendall counties and much of DeKalb County, and west through northern Illinois to Geneseo, near the Quad Cities.
Democratic candidates include Fermilab scientist Bill Foster of Geneva and St. Charles lawyer Jotham Stein. Yorkville’s John Laesch, a former navel intelligence officer who is making another attempt at winning the district seat, and small business owner Joe Serra of Geneva also are in the race.
In this downstate district, Republicans have lined up for the chance to succeed LaHood and keep the district in their party’s corner. The GOP candidates are state Rep. Aaron Schock of Peoria, Jim McConoughey of Dunlap and former Peoria City Council member John Morris.
The 18th District blends urban and rural communities, stretching from Knox, Stark and Putnam counties south through Peoria to Springfield, east over the northern edge of Decatur, and west through Jacksonville to Adams County, just shy of Quincy.
Reported by Aaron Chambers
Illinois Issues, December 2007