Mulligan to drop out of 55th House primary race

and Projects Writer
Updated 1/25/2012 6:20 PM
  • Rosemary Mulligan

    Rosemary Mulligan

A nasty battle with House Republican leadership has served as the impetus for longtime state Rep. Rosemary Mulligan to end her re-election campaign.

The Des Plaines lawmaker said Wednesday that she will not seek an 11th term.

"I was spending too much time getting angry about it," Mulligan said in a phone interview. "I watched the stuff going on with (U.S. Sen.) Mark Kirk (who suffered a stroke over the weekend) and I thought, you know, life is too short. You have to watch somebody like that and think, 'Why am I racing my motor over this?'"

With Mulligan bowing out, the GOP primary race in the 55th House District -- which includes parts of Des Plaines, Park Ridge and Elk Grove Village -- is now between two Park Ridge women, Susan Sweeney and Kelly Schaefer, both write-in candidates.

House Republican Leader Tom Cross said Friday he wouldn't back Mulligan's primary election bid, instead taking the rare stance of lending support to Sweeney.

Mulligan plans to finish out her current term, which ends in January 2013.

"I have to work on the budget and I have things I have to do," she said. But after that, she plans to spend more time with her young granddaughters -- ages 9 and 5 -- and continue to work as Maine Township Republican Committeewoman.

"I talked to friends and family yesterday and I told them I was just kind of a little bit disgusted."

A number of them, she said, told her "we really wish you wouldn't do this."

Mulligan -- who actually filed as a write-in in the 20th Illinois House District as well as the 55th but now will not campaign in either district -- said she feels betrayed by House Republican leaders.

"I didn't expect them to call me up and say, 'I'm not backing you.' The leader is supposed to be the one that backs the incumbent," said Mulligan.

In her nearly 20 years in the Illinois House, Mulligan became known as a budget expert particularly interested in human services programs to help the disabled.

But last year, she missed much of the lawmakers' annual session as she fought breathing problems.

Mulligan is known for her tenacity during debates on the House floor, where she isn't shy about speaking her mind.

In 2007, Mulligan called then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich a "blithering idiot," a comment she didn't mean to be picked up by her House microphone.

Mulligan and Cross have butted heads in the recent past.

Following the June death of Barrington Hills Rep. Mark Beaubien, Mulligan said she approached House leaders about being appointed to a leadership position, a request Cross declined to grant.

"It's not just to sweeten my pension," she said. "I thought it was fair to give me that title and authority since I'm in there doing my job and responding and doing hours and hours of work."

Cross spokeswoman Sara Wojcicki Jimenez has said Cross recruited Sweeney because House Republicans didn't know for sure whether Mulligan would file as a write-in candidate by the deadline Jan. 19. Mulligan earlier had to pull her name from the regular ballot after conceding she did not have enough petition signatures to qualify.

If Mulligan didn't file as a write-in, Cross feared the seat would have more easily fallen into the hands of Democratic candidate and Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan without giving the GOP a chance to put up a fight, Wojcicki Jimenez said.

Cross said Wednesday that he "certainly respects" Mulligan's decision.

"She has been and will continue to be an excellent, excellent state representative," he said.

He cited Mulligan's knowledge and expertise on the budget, which he said the House would need this "difficult year" ahead.

"I'm tired of the baloney that's going on," Mulligan said.

"I am concerned about representation of Des Plaines, but hopefully whoever is there I can work with and lobby from the individual side."

• Daily Herald state government writer Mike Riopell contributed to this report.

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