Redrawn Illinois congressional map gives most incumbents an election edge over newcomers, but issues such as economy, crime, abortion could also play a factor – Chicago Tribune

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With the control of Congress up for grabs in this fall’s election, Democrats and Republicans can ill-afford to lose any House seats — and issues from the economy to abortion could help decide which way voters break in Illinois and elsewhere.

“In Illinois and across the nation, we’re seeing an inversion of the old adage that all politics is local,” said John Shaw, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. “Politics, even at the local level, is national.”

With all 435 House seats up for election nationwide, Republicans, who currently are in the minority by a narrow margin, are pounding home worries about inflation, crime and illegal immigration. Democrats are warning against losing the right to abortion, and are tying opponents to former President Donald Trump and the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

In the states they control, each party has gerrymandered election boundaries to protect their own officeholders, with salaries of $174,000, and target their opponents. In the Chicago area, that means most districts are heavily Democratic with longtime incumbents, often facing Republican challengers who’ve never held office.

Unlike some other districts, the 10th remained largely intact after redistricting, but stretches farther into the northwest suburb, from the North Shore to McHenry County, and north to Wisconsin.

Congressman Brad Schneider during a community event held at the Vernon Township Community Center on Oct. 15, 2022.

Congressman Brad Schneider during a community event held at the Vernon Township Community Center on Oct. 15, 2022. (Brian O’Mahoney/for the Pioneer Press)

The district, which was traditionally Republican, flipped to Democrat Brad Schneider in 2012, and back to Republican Bob Dold the following cycle, but it has been held by Schneider since 2016. This time, Schneider, of Deerfield, faces a challenge from Lake Forest Republican Joseph Severino.

Both candidates were unopposed in the primary election in June, but Schneider — who won about two-thirds of the vote in the past two general elections — got almost 53,000 votes, compared with about 34,000 for Severino. Schneider reported $1.5 million cash on hand as of Sept. 30, compared with less than $5,00 for Severino.

Severino is a former CEO of an industry hospitality service company who has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to restructure debts of more than $1 million. He calls for rebuilding the economy and lowering taxes, fighting crime and imposing term limits. He opposes abortion and told the Tribune he would ban third-trimester procedures.

Republican challenger Joseph Severino, right, was asked to leave after trying to debate U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider during a non-campaign town hall by the congressman at the Vernon Township Community Center on Oct. 15, 2022.

Republican challenger Joseph Severino, right, was asked to leave after trying to debate U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider during a non-campaign town hall by the congressman at the Vernon Township Community Center on Oct. 15, 2022. (Brian O’Mahoney/for the Pioneer Press)

Schneider’s campaign website describes him as “committed to core Democratic values” such as protecting Social Security, Medicare, abortion access, and equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Yet he also is a self-identified independent, bipartisan “moderate” focused on lowering inflation and drug costs.

“Absolutely, there’s a place for moderates,” he said. “It’s a style more than a position. I’m willing to reach across the aisle … and find solutions.”

He refused to debate his opponent, saying it would only promote his “unhinged” views.

“He doesn’t want the word to get out,” Severino said of his opponent. “This is a highly contested race.”

Severino criticized Schneider for his former director of operations, Sterling Carter, who was wanted for impersonating a police officer and convicted of illegally carrying a gun during protests in Washington in November 2020, and pleaded guilty to embezzling almost $80,000 from Schneider’s congressional office.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report reports the consensus rating for Schneider’s district “leans” Democratic — while many other districts in the Chicago area are rated “safe” for incumbent Democrats.

On the ballot in the majority-Latino 4th District, on the Southwest Side of Chicago and near west suburbs, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia faces Republican James Falakos and Ed Hershey of the Working Class Party. Falakos owns a heating and air conditioning and a solar power company. He advocates for reduced government spending to lower inflation, and nuclear power for energy independence.

U.S. Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates during a pro-union rally on June 16, 2022.

U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates during a pro-union rally on June 16, 2022. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)

Garcia has also been considering running again for mayor of Chicago, as he did when he lost to incumbent Rahm Emanuel in 2015. A former alderman, state senator and Cook County commissioner, Garcia was elected to the U.S. House in 2018. He calls for health care for all, protections for immigrants, and worker rights.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis survived a close primary to take on Republican challenger Chad Koppie, who finished last of five candidates in the 8th District primary, and Independents Joshua Loyd and Roger Romanelli, all write-in candidates. If reelected, with the retirement of Rep. Bobby Rush, Davis would become the longest-serving member of Congress in Illinois.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh with U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, center, and other officials at the Laborers International Union of North America Training Center in Chicago on Aug. 25, 2022.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh with U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, center, and other officials at the Laborers International Union of North America Training Center in Chicago on Aug. 25, 2022. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

In the 2nd District, Rep. Robin Kelly faces Republican challenger, Army veteran and state meat inspector Thomas Lynch. Kelly has held the seat since 2013, and regularly has won with about 80% of the vote. This time, the district has been stretched from the South Side of Chicago to Danville.

Rep. Michael Quigley faces Republican challenger and commercial real estate agent Tom Hanson, who ran unsuccessfully for the office in 2008, 2018 and 2020, and Independent Jerico Matias Cruz in the 5th District, redrawn to stretch from downtown Chicago northwest to Barrington. It’s a rematch of 2020 and 2018, when Quigley won with more than 70% of the vote.

In the northwest suburbs, where the new 8th District runs from Rosemont to west of Elgin, Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy will aim to hold off Republican and retired Navy officer Chris Dargis.

In the 9th District, 12-term incumbent Jan Schakowsky faces Republican challenger Max Rice, an energy consultant and stand-up comic who finished last among four in the 2018 primary, but was unopposed in this year’s primary. The new district has been stretched in a thin band from Evanston to McHenry County.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky joins Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois members of Congress in the offices of Planned Parenthood of Illinois in reaction to the leaked draft decision from Supreme Court that showed their intention to overturn Roe v. Wade on May 3, 2022.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky joins Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois members of Congress in the offices of Planned Parenthood of Illinois in reaction to the leaked draft decision from Supreme Court that showed their intention to overturn Roe v. Wade on May 3, 2022. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)

In rural areas, the remap has concentrated many Republican voters into two districts. In the southern tip of the state, the 12th District features incumbent Republican, small business owner and former Marine Mike Bost, who’s held office since 2014, against Democratic challenger, Navy veteran and former union president Homer “Chip” Markel. Bost won in 2020 with 60% of the vote.

The most Republican district in the state is the 15th, which was created by combining parts of the 13th and 15th districts in central Illinois, after Illinois lost one Congressional seat due to declining population.

With Trump’s endorsement, Rep. Mary Miller, who took office in 2020, defeated 13th District Republican incumbent Rodney Davis. She now faces Democrat and commodity broker Paul Lange.

U.S. Rep. Mary Miller at Republican Day on the Director's Lawn at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield on Aug. 19, 2021.

U.S. Rep. Mary Miller at Republican Day on the Director’s Lawn at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield on Aug. 19, 2021. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)

The heavily Republican 16th District, where Rep. Adam Kinzinger stepped down, features 18th District incumbent Republican and former prosecutor Darrin LaHood, against Democrat Elizabeth Haderlein, executive director of the Land Conservancy of McHenry County. The district covers mostly rural areas west of Chicago, from Bloomington to the Wisconsin border.

rmccoppin@chicagotribune.com

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October 22, 2022 at 07:53AM

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