he travels throughout his district on the
Northwest Side, Republican state Representative
Mike McAuliffe is both surprised and perplexed.
"don't seem to be concerned, don't seem to be
angry," said McAuliffe, referring to the
persistent squabbling between Democratic Governor
Rod Blagojevich and Democratic House Speaker Mike
Madigan and the resultant lack of accomplishment
unresolved issues that affect people both
personally and financially, such as the stalled
electricity rate relief rebates, the property tax
cap extension, CTA and RTA funding, and money for
capital improvements of area streets, "people
aren't talking," McAuliffe said.
it's a "quagmire mentality," engendered
by the situation in Iraq. Perhaps it's disgust
over the ludicrous spectacle of a state government
wholly controlled by the Democrats and wholly
incapable of working toward a common agenda. Or
perhaps it's just weary acceptance of the norm,
namely, that politicians' preoccupation with
self-preservation and the acquisition of power
only rarely benefits the citizenry.
the malaise, this much is clear: (1) The
Republicans are not benefiting from the Democrats'
failures. (2) Madigan's grip on the House, where
Democrats have a 66-52 majority, is unassailable.
(3) Democrats are likely to make a net gain of two
to five seats in the 2008 election, putting them
in reach of a 71-seat "super majority"
which can override a gubernatorial veto. (4) The
squabbling and lack of productivity -- or quagmire
-- will continue through the 2010 Democratic
primary for governor, in which Madigan's daughter,
state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, will
Madigan super majority in the 2009-10 session
would make the Republicans irrelevant, but,
according to McAuliffe, it also would make
Madigan's life miserable. The House "would be
total chaos," he said, adding that House
Democrats would have a magnified sense of their
importance and would make exorbitant demands for
projects and funding in their districts. If denied
by Madigan, a member could refuse to vote to
override a governor's veto.
controls the House well with less than a super
majority," said McAuliffe. "He will lose
control with a super majority."
as 2008 approaches, a super majority looks
unlikely. Here's an overview of key House races:
District (Northwest Side: 41st, 36th wards and
Norridge and Harwood Heights): McAuliffe, first
elected in 1996, is the only Chicago Republican
representative. He defeated Democrat Mark
Dobrzycki, a Harwood Heights trustee, in 2006 by
18,206-11,930, with 60.4 percent of the vote.
Dobrzycki is poised to run again in 2008.
McAuliffe beat fellow incumbents Bob Bugielski and
Ralph Capparelli, both Democrats, in 2002 and
2004, respectively, in contests occasioned by
redistricting. The outlook: Safe for McAuliffe.
District (North Shore: Glenview and parts of
Skokie, Wilmette, Northfield, Morton Grove and
Northbrook): Incumbent Republican Beth Coulson is
a fiscal conservative and a social liberal
(favoring gun control, abortion rights and gay
rights). She's a good fit for the district.
won by 666 votes in 2002, upped that to 4,107
votes in 2004, and won by 7,101 votes in 2006. Her
2008 foe will be Daniel Biss. The district went
58.8 percent for John Kerry in 2004 and 59.4
percent for Al Gore in 2000. Coulson is popular.
The outlook: Having beaten liberal Skokie women in
2004 and 2006, Coulson will easily dispatch Biss
in 2008, but when she retires, the district will
District (Northwest Side: Argyle to Belmont,
between Damen and Laramie): Democrat Rich Bradley
has held this seat since 1996, although it has a
growing Hispanic population (47 percent in the
2000 census) but not yet a Hispanic voting
majority. Bradley wants one more term to max out
his state pension, but Alderman Dick Mell's
daughter Deborah, who is the sister of the
governor's wife, wants the seat, and she won't
wait until 2010. So Bradley apparently is running
for state senator in the 2008 primary against
incumbent Iris Martinez (D-20), who has alienated
the Hispanic Democratic Organization. The outlook:
Deborah Mell will be the next state rep.
District (Des Plaines, Park Ridge): Incumbent
Republican Rosemary Mulligan, first elected in
1992, is strongly pro-choice and is strongly
reviled by conservative Republicans in the
district, but she, like Coulson, is a good fit for
her district, which went for Bush in 2000 (51
percent) and Kerry in 2004 (50.1 percent).
has been challenged by both conservative and
liberal Democrats, and she has won easily. She was
unopposed in 2006, got 65.9 percent of the vote in
2004, and got 60.7 percent in 2002. Her 2008 foe
is attorney Aurora Abella-Austriaco, who will
spend heavily to win. The outlook: Safe for
District (Southern Illinois: Salem, Mount Vernon):
Incumbent Democrat Kurt Granberg, first elected in
1986, is toast. He won by just 126 votes over
Republican John Cavaletto in 2006, and he is
expected to retire in 2008. The outlook: Cavaletto
will win the seat.
District (Danville, Rantoul): Incumbent Republican
Bill Black, first elected in 1986, is a political
institution in the area, which includes the
Democratic-trending suburbs around
Champaign-Urbana. Kerry won the district in 2004
with 52.9 percent of the vote, but Bush won it in
2000 with 51.8 percent. Black wants to retire, and
he wants a successor from Vermillion County, but
nobody's stepped forward. The outlook: If Black
runs again, he'll win, but if he retires, Democrat
Todd Lee, a former Vermillion county commissioner,
could win the seat.
District (Schaumburg, Roselle, parts of Palatine
and Hanover Park): Incumbent Paul Froelich, first
elected in 2002, is a party switcher and the
Republicans' number one target in 2008. Froelich
stunned both Springfield and his district, where
he was the Schaumburg Township Republican
committeeman and a champion of social conservative
issues, when he defected last summer. Republicans
Anita Forte-Scott and Aaron Muller are running in
the primary. The outlook: Toss-up.
District (Peoria suburbs): Incumbent Republican
Aaron Schock is the boy wonder of Springfield. He
was a member of the Peoria Board of Education when
he won the House seat at age 23 in 2004. He's now
running for congressman in the 18th District.
Either Al Mayer or Jimmy Dillon, both Democratic
county commissioners, will run. The Republican is
likely to be Jehan Gordon. The outlook: Democratic
District (Streamwood, Hoffman Estates): Longtime
Republican incumbent (1985 to 2006) Terry Park
lost his bid for re-election in 2006 by 915 votes
to Republican-turned-Democrat Fred Crespo, a
township official. Crespo had tired of waiting for
Parke to retire, so he switched parties. The
outlook: Crespo is safe in 2008.
District (Elgin, Carpentersville): Incumbent
Republican Ruth Munson has not solidified her base
in this district, which has a growing Hispanic
population. She was appointed in 2002, and she won
by 387 votes in 2004 and by 1,137 votes in 2006.
Democrats expect to beat her in 2008.
prediction: Democrats will make a net gain of
three seats, giving them a 69-51 majority. But
Republicans were down 72-46 after the 1990
election, so it could be worse.
in the adjoining vote
chart of area legislators are McAuliffe,
Mulligan, Bradley and Coulson, as well as
Democrats Joe Lyons, John Fritchey and John
D'Amico of Chicago and Lou Lang of Skokie and
Republican Skip Saviano of Elmwood Park.