Former Democratic state Rep. Mark Walker of Arlington Heights said Monday he plans to make a bid for his old House seat that's being vacated by Republican David Harris.
The Wheeling Township Democratic committeeman says he knows the difficulty of finding candidates interested in the role, given ongoing gridlock in Springfield.
"I don't have a committee, I don't have money and I don't have petitions yet," Walker told the Daily Herald. "But I'm going to run, I'm pretty sure."
Walker, elected in 2009, was defeated by Harris, of Arlington Heights, two years later.
The men live just four blocks from each other in the Scarsdale neighborhood of town and have a cordial relationship.
"David leaving was an important factor. In my estimation he was forced out by members of his own party that were unhappy with his moderacy ... we can't let that go unopposed," Walker said.
Harris announced last week he won't seek re-election in 2018, citing a diminished "ability to be effective" amid a deep partisan divide in state government that led to a multiyear budget standoff. The impasse was resolved in July only after a number of Republicans, including Harris, broke ranks with GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner to approve a 32 percent income tax increase.
That vote made Harris a target by several conservative groups opposed to the tax increase, including the Taxpayers United of America. Republican Katie Miller of Mount Prospect has emerged as a candidate backed by radio host and former candidate for governor Dan Proft, who runs a conservative political action committee.
Walker also came under fire for supporting an income tax hike during his final days in Springfield in 2011.
As Democratic committeeman, Walker is responsible for recruiting candidates and said it's been difficult to do so amid fighting between Rauner and the Democratic leaders of the legislature.
"I have yet to find somebody better suited than I am to run for the office," he said. "But the truth is, if someone pops up and they really look good" he'd consider withdrawing.
The 53rd House District includes parts of Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect and Prospect Heights. While drawn in the 2010 redistricting process to lean Republican, the district has voted considerably more Democratic in recent years, as shown by Hillary Clinton's strong showing in the area last November.