Not surprisingly, suburban political leaders divided on Trump verdict

The reactions from suburban politicians and candidates to former President Donald Trump’s felony convictions largely were predictable, with many Republicans criticizing prosecutors and the trial itself and many Democrats expressing support for the legal process.

But not everyone toed the party line after Thursday’s guilty verdicts on 34 charges stemming from hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and efforts to influence the 2016 election.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, a Chicagoan whose 5th District cuts through much of suburban Cook and Lake counties, was among those who insisted former presidents aren’t above the law.

“Today, the justice system finally caught up with Donald Trump,” Quigley said.

Quigley also noted Trump is facing charges in other cases, too, and he called on Republicans to abandon Trump as the head of their party “and help prevent a historic criminal from retaking the most powerful post in the world.”

With the Republican National Convention and Trump’s presumptive nomination as the party’s presidential candidate just two months away, however, such a political rebuke is unlikely.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville said Americans owe a debt of gratitude to the jurors “who upheld the rule of law” with their ruling. Foster, whose 11th District includes much of the Northwest and West suburbs across eight counties, called Thursday “a historic and somber day.”

Across the aisle, Will County Republican Party Chair Christina Clausen defended Trump and said the verdict “represents a profound crisis for our democratic process.”

Clausen, of Homer Glen, alleged the trial was unfair and said the verdict interferes with the upcoming presidential election.

“It is deeply troubling that, despite living in what many consider the most free and fair society in history, a judge and prosecutor in New York City can wrongfully condemn and imprison one of our nation’s greatest presidents,” said Clausen, overlooking that a jury handed down the verdict. “I stand firmly with Donald Trump during these challenging times and hope that justice will prevail, demonstrating his innocence to the world.”

Republican congressional candidate Mark Rice of Chicago, who’s challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg in the entirely suburban 8th District, said he expects the verdict will be overturned by an appellate court.

“What a farce,” Rice said Friday in a Facebook post.

Conversely, Krishnamoorthi took to social media to say “the rule of law held strong.”

On his X social media page, Republican congressional candidate James Marter of Oswego shared an image of a social media post from Trump in which the former president proclaimed himself a political prisoner.

“TRUMP CONVICTED RIGGED TRIAL! #WitchHunt,” added Marter, whose 14th District includes parts of Kane, Will and other counties.

Not every suburban Republican figure expressed such outrage.

In a statement on social media, Seth Cohen, a Skokie resident and the GOP’s nominee for Illinois’ 9th Congressional District seat, supported “the role and authority” of the justice system while “respectfully” disagreeing with the verdict. Cohen also said he opposes the weaponization of the system by members of either major political party.

Cohen is vying to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky in the 9th District, which includes parts of Cook, Lake and McHenry counties. Schakowsky took a swipe at the GOP in a verdict-inspired social media post Friday morning.

“It's time for the party of ‘law and order’ to get with the program,” she wrote.

Republican state Rep. Martin McLaughlin of Barrington Hills turned to social media after the verdict, posting a photo of the U.S. flag displayed outside his office and a jab at the people of New York City.

“I left the office flag flying high and proud,” wrote McLaughlin, of the 52nd District. “Thankfully there are still a lot of ‘Old Souls’ still present in our Great Nation if not in Manhattan. Blue skies ahead.”

Lake County Democratic Party Chair Lauren Beth Gash said Republican candidates will have to answer to voters for supporting Trump.

But one such candidate, 3rd Congressional District hopeful John Booras of Homer Glen, predicted Trump would “not only serve no time behind bars, but come out even stronger than before.”

“It’s unfortunate that Democrats have resorted to trying to beat President Trump through the court system instead of at the polls,” said Booras, who’s seeking to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Delia Ramirez of Chicago in a district that includes parts of suburban Cook and DuPage counties.

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