Illinois Republicans Make Some Gains In State House, Senate

Illinois Republicans Make Some Gains In State House, Senate

After pouring tens of millions of dollars from his own pocket into the Republican campaigns of state House and Senate candidates, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner will spend the next two years of his administration working with a legislature that’s still dominated by Democrats. Democrats were able to keep even on the fundraising side of things, relying heavily on cash from labor unions and attorneys. Republicans made a net gain of four seats in the Illinois House. The GOP also gained at least two state Senate seats, with one race too close to call Wednesday morning.

The seats Republicans picked up from Democratic control are:

  • Steven Reick defeated John Bartman in an open House seat in McHenry County (District 63). Democratic incumbent state Rep. Jack Franks did not seek reelection.

  • Rep. Kate Cloonen lost to Lindsay Parkhurst in a seat that encompasses Kankakee (District 79).

  • Rep. Andy Skoog lost to Jerry Lee Long in a seat that covers Ottawa and Peru (District 76).

  • Rep. John Bradley lost to Dave Severin in a seat that includes Marion (District 117). Bradley is in Democratic leadership in the House.

  • Sen. Gary Forby lost tocin a seat that covers parts of Southern Illinois, including Marion (District 59).

  • Jil Tracy was unopposed in a seat that had been controlled by Democratic Sen. John Sullivan (District 47).

Democrats won one seat that was held by a Republican incumbent:

  • Rep. Dwight Kay lost to Katie Stuart in a seat located across the border from St. Louis (District 112).

Incumbent Sen. Tom Cullerton narrowly defeated Republican challenger Seth Lewis, retaining his seat that includes parts of DuPage County, just south of O’Hare Airport (District 23).

These changes mean Democrats will keep their majorities, but lose their supermajorities in the House, although Speaker Michael Madigan has repeatedly said Democrats don’t have a working veto-proof majority over the last two years.

Both Democrats and Republicans have declared victories out of the results.

Voters stated clearly that they wish to maintain a wide Democratic majority in the Illinois House of Representatives and maintain a strong check on Bruce Rauner and his anti-middle class agenda,” Madigan said in a written statement.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin took away a message that starkly contrasts from Madigan’s message.

“By handily breaking the supermajority, Illinois voters sent a strong message that it is time for Democrats to join Governor Rauner and legislative Republicans in enacting reforms,” Durkin said in a statement.

In the near-term, before January’s inauguration, state lawmakers will once again be confronted with a conflict over the Illinois state budget. After a year-long budget stalemate, in which universities and social services weren’t paid for months, Democratic and Republican leaders agreed on a stopgap spending measure to pay state contractors for the next six months. The Fall veto session in Springfield is scheduled to start later this month.

Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.