Speaker Madigan tries to regain supermajority with anti-Trump push in suburbs

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Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan waited on Tuesday night’s election results to see whether he regained his supermajority, as the Democratic Party he leads was poised to claim total control of state government once again.

Two years ago, then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cost Madigan his veto-proof margin by leading a charge in southern Illinois and other conservative pockets around the state that saw the GOP score a net gain of four seats. But Trump did not fare well in the suburbs, and this time around, Madigan sought to capitalize on that antipathy toward the president by targeting several seats in historically Republican areas like DuPage County and the northwest suburbs.

Madigan-led Democrats dumped an avalanche of negative advertising into races that tied Republican House candidates to unpopular Trump messages, and they portrayed incumbent GOP lawmakers as taking votes that supported wide-open gun rights and hurt women and social programs. In turn, Republicans sought to re-energize their party’s disenchanted voters by warning that complacency risked empowering Madigan even more. Republicans had hoped to gain ground after the speaker pushed through a major state income tax increase in July 2017 and ended a yearslong budget impasse with Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Senate President John Cullerton’s Democratic troops were seeking to expand a 37-22 lead over Republicans, already having one more than the minimum 36 needed for a supermajority. Again the battleground was centered on DuPage County, where a hot congressional race between Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam and Democratic challenger Sean Casten had spurred Democratic hopes for a wave election.

Among Democrats playing defense were Democratic Rep. Marty Moylan of Des Plaines against challenger Marilyn Smolenski, a Park Ridge Republican; and Democratic Rep. Sam Yingling of Grayslake against Ken Idstein, a Republican from the same town. Democratic Rep. Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg also worked to hold back Republican Jillian Rose Bernas, a Schaumburg library board member.

— In other key collar county and Downstate races, Rep. Mark Batinick, a Plainfield Republican who faced a barrage of negative television ads, fought to hang on against Democratic opponent Mica Freeman, also of Plainfield.

In Kane County, the race to fill the seat of outgoing Rep. Steven Andersson, R-Geneva, featured Republican Dan Ugaste of Geneva against Democrat Richard Johnson, teacher from Elgin. In Kankakee County, Republican Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst of Kankakee had a rematch against former Democratic Rep. Lisa Dugan of Bradley.

Republican Rep. Jerry Lee Long of Streator was in a tough battle following what the House GOP said were complaints of abusive behavior involving staffers. He faced Democratic engineer Lance Yednock of Ottawa.

In a major showdown in deep southern Illinois, appointed incumbent Democratic Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie of Elizabethtown was battling Republican Massac County State’s Attorney Patrick Windhorst of Metropolis. Finnie was trying hang on to the Phelps family’s long legacy of holding the House seat. She is the daughter of former state Rep. David Phelps, who later served in the U.S. House, and the cousin of former Rep. Brandon Phelps, who gave up the seat in 2017 after about 14 years and now works as a lobbyist.

In Macomb, Republican Rep. Norine Hammond was in a rematch with Democrat John Curtis, a vegetable farmer. In another rematch, Democratic Rep. Katie Stuart of Edwardsville was battling former Republican Rep. Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon.

— In key DuPage Senate races, Republican Sen. Chris Nybo of Elmhurst faced a second challenge from Suzy Glowiak, a Western Springs trustee. Appointed Republican Sen. John Curran of Downers Grove was trying to turn back a challenge from Democrat Bridget Fitzgerald, the Western Springs clerk. And Republican Sen. Michael Connelly of Lisle was pitted against Democrat Laura Ellman of Naperville, an assessor at Argonne National Laboratory.

Democratic Sen. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park was seeking to win a rematch against Republican Seth Lewis, an insurance agent from Bartlett.

In the northwest suburbs, Republican Sen. Tom Rooney of Rolling Meadows ran against Democratic challenger Ann Gillespie of Arlington Heights, a retired mail-order pharmacy vice president and general manager.

Appointed Republican Sen. Donald DeWitte, a onetime St. Charles alderman who replaced ex-Sen. Karen McConnaughay, is running against Nancy Zettler, an attorney from Algonquin.

In the Quad Cities, Republican Sen. Neil Anderson of Andalusia was trying to hold off Democratic challenger Gregg Johnson, a retired Illinois Department of Corrections supply supervisor from East Moline.

rlong@chicagotribune.com

hdardick@chicagotribune.com

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November 6, 2018 at 07:06PM

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