McSweeney sets sights on statewide office, won't seek re-election

David McSweeney is out as a state representative but not out of politics. The Barrington Hills Republican announced Thursday he won't run for re-election next year and instead will pivot to a statewide bid in 2022.

“I'll serve out the rest of my term and very likely will run for secretary of state (in 2022) if Jesse White doesn't run,” McSweeney said referring to the popular Democrat incumbent, “or U.S. Senate depending on the circumstances.

“I'm not going away. I'll continue to be very active. I want to focus on defeating the progressive tax,” he said regarding the November 2020 referendum on a graduated income tax in Illinois, and “also build up my support statewide.”

McSweeney, a conservative House Republican, was elected in 2012. He's known for not caucusing with the GOP and has butted heads with party leaders including House Minority Leader Jim Durkin and former Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“I'm a true independent conservative,” said McSweeney, who added his focus is on fiscal issues like lowering taxes although he opposes abortion.

A wide-open election for secretary of state if White retires as promised is one thing, but McSweeney could face a tough battle in 2022 against Democratic incumbent Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, who won by about 15 percentage points in 2016.

“She's very vulnerable” over votes on taxes and spending, McSweeney said.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Springfield is up for election in 2020.

McSweeney's term ends in January 2021. One possible Republican contender for the seat is Barrington Hills Mayor Martin McLaughlin, who did not return a call seeking comment.

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