U.S. Representatives Rahm Emanuel (D-5) and Jan
Schakowsky (D-9), who represent portions of
Chicago's Northwest Side and adjacent suburbs, the
Bush-Kerry presidential race could be either a
lose/win or a win/lose situation.
President George Bush wins a second term, there is
a strong likelihood that that the Republicans will
lose control of the U.S. House in 2006.
Historically, the party of the incumbent president
loses House seats, especially in the mid-term
election of a president's second term. That's a
lose/win scenario for Emanuel and Schakowsky.
if Democrat John Kerry wins the presidency, there
is an equally strong likelihood that the
Republicans will retain control of the U.S. House
in 2006 as voters react normally against the
incumbent president's party in the first mid-term
election. That's a win/lose scenario for Emanuel
as is likely, that the Republicans retain their
majority in the House, which is currently 228-207,
this fall, then Schakowsky's close ally, House
minority leader Nancy Pelosi, won't become speaker
in 2005. The odds are great that she will become
speaker in 2007 if Bush wins, but the odds are
negligible that she will become speaker that year
if Kerry wins.
appointed Schakowsky, first elected in 1998, as
one of her chief deputy whips and named her to the
Democratic Steering Committee, which doles out
committee assignments. Schakowsky, age 60, decided
to forego a 2004 bid for U.S. senator and to seek
re-election to her House seat. If Pelosi becomes
the first female speaker of the House,
Schakowsky's power will increase commensurately.
It is entirely possible that she could win the
whip's post, which would make her third in the
Democratic House hierarchy. And, in that position,
she would have a chance to become speaker at some
in the long run, it is in the best political
interest of Schakowsky for Bush to win in 2004.
for Emanuel, age 44, a Kerry loss would be
politically more advantageous than a Kerry win.
Emanuel, first elected in 2002, was a top White
House aide from 1993 to 1999 during the Clinton
Administration. That position broadened his
nationwide connections and enabled him to raise
$2.9 million for his 2002 congressional campaign.
to Washington sources, Emanuel is the
all-but-certain choice to head the Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee after the 2004
elections, for the 2005-06 campaign cycle. He is
perceived to have the clout to raise vast dollars
for Democratic congressional candidates. The
current committee chairman is Robert Matsui, a
California Democrat, who is not expected to seek
therein lies Emanuel's conundrum: If the Democrats
win the House in 2004, then Matsui is the hero --
but the majority wouldn't be more than a couple of
seats. If the Republicans keep the House in 2004,
it would be with only an eight- to 10-seat
majority. So if Bush wins and the Republicans
retain their House majority, Emanuel will be in a
position to be the hero of 2006 and to strategize
and achieve a Democratic majority, installing
Pelosi as speaker. However, if Kerry wins, then
Emanuel could be the goat of 2006 and be blamed
for any loss of Democratic House seats.
like Schakowsky, it also is in the political
interest of Emanuel for Bush to win in 2004.
problem in winning a Democratic House majority is
related to the political polarity of the nation.
In 2000 Bush won 239 of 435 congressional
districts, to the Democrats' 196. Yet, in the
107th Congress elected in 2000, the Republicans
had a 222-213 majority. That meant that a sizable
number of Bush districts elected a Democratic
congressman, but it also demonstrated that most Al
Gore districts elected a Democrat and most Bush
districts elected a Republican.
2002, due primarily to redistricting, the
Republicans enhanced their House majority by
seven, winning 229 seats. One Democrat has since
switched parties, but the Republicans lost special
elections this year in Kentucky and South Dakota,
so their majority is down to 228-207. A House
majority is 218, so the Democrats must make a net
gain of 11 seats in November.
present, 30 Democrats occupy congressional
districts won by Bush in 2000, and 21 Republicans
occupy districts won by Gore. Of those Democrats,
21 are from Southern or Border states; they would
be vulnerable to defeat in an anti-Democratic
year, such as 1994. Of those Republicans, 15 are
from the Northeast (Connecticut, New York,
Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New
Hampshire), and they would be vulnerable to defeat
in an anti-Republican year, such as 1974, 1982 and
of a 2003 remap in Texas, the current 16-16 split
in that congressional delegatioin will likely
become a 22-10 Republican majority. That means
that the Democrats will have to pick up 17
Republican seats elsewhere. That won't happen.
Regardless of whether Bush or Kerry wins, the
Republicans will still have a House majority,
probably in the range of 225 seats, and Denny
Hastert of Illinois will remain as speaker.
Emanuel assumes the helm of the Democrats'
congressional campaign committee in 2005, he will
be able to raise more money if Kerry is president,
but he will be less likely to overturn the
Republican majority in 2006. If Bush is president,
Emanuel will raise less money but likely will win
a Democratic majority.
the adjoining vote
chart indicates, Illinois' congressmen are
predictably partisan on fiscal and defense issues,
but quite independent on social issues such as
abortion, flag desecration and school vouchers.
the state's 19 congressional districts, Gore won
10 and Bush won nine in 2000. There are 10
Republicans in the delegation, nine of whom occupy
Bush-won districts. Mark Kirk, in the North Shore
10th District, is the only Republican in a Gore
district. He votes pro-choice on abortion, but
otherwise he generally backs the Republican line,
rarely deviating from fellow Republican Henry Hyde
(R-6) on fiscal issues.
Democrats, Emanuel, Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez
(D-4) are predictably liberal on virtually every
vote, although Emanuel did support the $87 billion
appropriation for Iraq, and Gutierrez backed a ban
on flag desecration. Democrat Bill Lipinski (D-3),
from the Southwest Side, deviated from party
orthodoxy on school vouchers, flag desecration,
Iraq funding, the Pledge of Allegiance, ending the
marriage tax penalty and abortion.
six incumbents are safe bets to win re-election in