GOP targeting several suburban state Senate seats
Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno says ousting a few suburban lawmakers will be priorities as her party tries to loosen Democrats' iron grip on the state Senate in next year's election.
"We've got some suburban opportunities both in DuPage and Lake counties," Radogno, of Lemont, told reporters this week at Republicans' annual breakfast in Springfield.
Does she mean in trying to defeat Democratic Sens. Melinda Bush of Grayslake and Tom Cullerton of Villa Park?
"Correct," Radogno said.
Radogno said the party also will focus on playing defense in a southern Illinois district and trying to pick up a seat in the western part of the state for Jil Tracy, the 2014 running mate for former state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale in his unsuccessful run for governor.
Cullerton and Bush both won their seats from Republicans in the presidential year of 2012 when Cook and all of the collar counties but McHenry went for Democratic President Barack Obama.
Without those coattails, Republicans could have more momentum trying to grab those districts back.
But Park Ridge's Hillary Clinton is leading the race to be the highest-profile Democrat on the ballot in 2016.
So those two suburban state senate districts could be shaping up to be a real battle. Cullerton this month took a pass on a race for Congress in order to try to win re-election.
State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat, noted that suburban Democrats withstood such challenges last year even as Republican Bruce Rauner won the governor's race.
What will be the dynamic this year?
She says it could depend on how voters feel about the way the state budget impasse plays out, whether in the General Assembly or in court.
"Frankly, a lot of it depends on what the courts are doing," she said.
Pray to win the lottery
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a Naperville Democrat, is having a lottery to give out a "limited number" of tickets to see Pope Francis speak to Congress next month.
Francis is scheduled to speak to Congress Sept. 24, and entries are due Sept. 7. If you win, you have to pay your own way.
After Gov. Bruce Rauner said this week he'd be open to having suburban schools pay more of the share of teachers' retirement costs under some conditions, state Rep. David McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican, called to say he thinks he has the idea blocked.
McSweeney wrote a resolution in the Illinois House opposing the so-called cost shift, which has been unpopular among suburban schools and lawmakers.
He says 62 supporters in the House signed on. If all those people vote against it if it ever came to a vote, that's enough people to block it.
"I'm cautiously optimistic that I can defeat any local pension cost shift attempt," McSweeney said.
Sanguinetti talks diversity
Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti of Wheaton was asked about diversity in the Republican Party. She touts her spot as the first Latina lieutenant governor but was pressed about the GOP having fewer minority candidates.
"We're doing a lot of outreach efforts," she said. "You're going to see a lot of color in the party."