Illinois Democrats Maintain Control, Despite Losses

               By Kevin Lee
       Illinois Statehouse News
   SPRINGFIELD  –  11/4/10 - The so-called Republican wave was supposed to crash over the entire nation, but Illinois Democrats managed to anchor themselves and weather the Election Day storm.
   Republicans made headway into a couple of the state's Constitutional positions and nabbed some seats in the Illinois General Assembly.
   But overall, Democrats will still have strong majorities in the Illinois House and Senate when the new slate of lawmakers are sworn in come January. And it looks like Pat Quinn will likely continue being governor, though Illinois voters won't know the final election results until sometime later this month.
   "Democratic leaders know they dodged a bullet," said Kent Redfield, a political science professor with the University of Illinois at Springfield. "Two years from now, every seat (in the House) is going to be up (for election) again. So it'll be up to them to turn this around."
   After Tuesday's general election, Quinn holds a lead of less than 9,000 votes over GOP challenger state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to an Associated Press report.
   While election results have yet to be finalized as absentee ballots continue to be counted, here are the results from Tuesday's general election:
   Pat Quinn and running mate Sheila Simon are slightly ahead in the race to become Governor and Lieutenant Governor, respectively, over GOP challengers Bill Brady and Jason Plummer.
   Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White, both Democratic incumbents, handily won re-election.
   Dan Rutherford, a Republican state senator from Chenoa, was elected Treasurer over Robin Kelly, the chief of staff of current state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.
Judy Baar Topinka, a former state treasurer herself, made a return to statewide politics by being elected comptroller over state Rep. David Miller, D-Dolton.
   Democrats will likely no longer have a majority in the Illinois Senate that is capable of overriding a governor's veto. Democrats will lose two seats in the Illinois Senate, maintaining a majority of 35 to 23. Suzi Schmidt, Chairman of the Lake County Board, defeated state Sen. Michael Bond, D-Grayslake for the 31st District seat. In the 49th District, business contractor Sam McCann unseated state Sen. Deanna Demuzio, D-Carlinville.
   Republicans gained seven seats but will lose one seat in the Illinois House. Illinois Republicans were hoping to take control of the Illinois House but would have needed to get 12 seats to win a majority. As things stand now, Democrats will have a slimmer majority of 64 to 54.
   State Rep. Bob Prtichard, R-Sycamore, doesn't think the Republican seats picked up in the Illinois House will change how Democrats control the legislative agenda.
   "I don't look for it to make a lot of difference," Pritchard said. "They've still got a majority and (Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is a consummate politician. He'll do what he wants to do."
State Rep. Will Davis, D-East Hazel Crest, said on Tuesday that Democrats are going to disregard Republican talking points while launching  forward with the interests of Illinois voters in mind.
   "As Democrats we have a lot to do. We certainly feel that whatever the rhetoric that came out of the other party that caused some of the defeats of today are going to be realized (for their harm) over the next two or four years," he said.
   Democrats will tackle at least one crucial topic in the next year. Every ten years, the state must redraw the boundaries for its legislative and Congressional districts, using U.S. Census data.
   In previous years, redistricting went through a belabored process that called upon judges of the Illinois Supreme Court and, eventually, selections out of a hat to determine who would draw the legislative and Congressional maps.
   But Illinois Democrats can avoid that situation altogether. Democrats could use their majorities to pass proposed maps to Quinn, who could sign them into effect, much like any other legislative proposal.
Democrats could shape legislative and Congressional districts in their favor for the next decade, according to Redfield.
   "I'd expect the (Democratic) leaders and Quinn to work together and get this done before June," Redfield said. "In years past, we've had divided legislatures that led to these long conflicts, but that's not likely to be the case here."
   Reporter Jennifer Wessner contributed to this report.
   Story courtesy of Illinois Statehouse News.