Madigan, Democrats losing House supermajority

  • Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, left, speaks to Senate President John Cullerton during Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget address in February. Republican gains in the House and Senate Tuesday eliminated the supermajority Democrats previously enjoyed in the General Assembly.

    Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, left, speaks to Senate President John Cullerton during Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget address in February. Republican gains in the House and Senate Tuesday eliminated the supermajority Democrats previously enjoyed in the General Assembly. Associated Press File Photo

 
 
Updated 11/9/2016 1:01 AM

The Democrats' supermajority in the state House is on its way out.

That means Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner doesn't have to worry about the Democrats overriding his vetoes by themselves, at least for the next two years.

 

While one suburban district changed hands, the losses of at least four other downstate Democratic seats were the undoing of the supermajority.

Democrats expect to pick up one seat downstate from a GOP incumbent, for a net loss of four seats.

"It's Rauner running the show. He's running the campaigns and spending the money," said Kent Redfield, an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield. "Rauner owns the Republican Party."

The supermajority in the House has never been what it seemed. While the Democrats had the numbers, they rarely, if ever, had the votes to override a Rauner veto thanks to diverse regional interests and a few renegades who couldn't be counted on to toe the Democratic Party line.

With Chicago state Rep. Ken Dunkin ousted in the primary and Marengo state Rep. Jack Franks seeking a different elected post outside the legislature, two of the most common Democratic defectors won't be in the Capitol come January.

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That's why so much money was thrown at several key House races this campaign. That includes more than $10 million in just three suburban House races.

The Democrats wanted a supermajority with votes they could count on, and the Republicans wanted to thwart the veto override power of the ruling legislative leadership, forcing the majority party to take them into consideration in developing its legislative initiatives.

Tuesday's vote is seen by many as a referendum on the past two years and a foreshadowing of the 2018 campaign.

"This shows more than anything that people want a new direction and they don't want Mike Madigan running the state," said state GOP Chairman Tim Schneider. "It validates the message we have been driving home for the last two years."

While Franks' seat is going to Republican Steven Reick, Democrats had hoped to pick up some other suburban seats in Downers Grove and Park Ridge, which didn't come to pass.

Democrats Kate Cloonen of Kankakee, John Bradley of Marion and Mike Smiddy of Hillsdale all lost their seats, according to unofficial results from throughout the state. Andy Skoog, of La Salle, was losing slightly to his challenger, but pollsters expected him to be ousted. Katie Stuart of Edwardsville upended GOP incumbent Dwight Kay to pick up a seat for the Democrats.

Democrat Sam Yingling of Grayslake staved off GOP challenger Rod Drobinski in what was a very negative campaign. Republican incumbent Michael McAuliffe of Chicago handily beat Merry Marwig of Park Ridge, whose campaign saw a lot of cash from Democratic leaders who believed McAuliffe was vulnerable.

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