Coattails helped GOP flip some legislative seats, but only one in suburbs

  • Associated PressThe war between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, bottom left, and both Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, top left, and Senate President John Cullerton played out Election Night with five legislative seats flipped to the GOP.

    Associated PressThe war between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, bottom left, and both Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, top left, and Senate President John Cullerton played out Election Night with five legislative seats flipped to the GOP.

 
 
Updated 11/9/2016 5:00 PM

Election Day saw a Republican businessman score a few key victories against a Democrat from Chicago.

And that's just in Illinois.

 

The war between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and both Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton for seats in the Capitol played out statewide.

To wit: Of the districts the GOP managed to flip, one shares a border with Wisconsin and another shares a border with Kentucky.

Here's what you need to know.

The suburbs barely changed

Despite the millions of dollars spent fighting over seats in the Chicago suburbs, almost nothing changed.

Vulnerable freshman Democrats like state Sens. Melinda Bush of Grayslake and Tom Cullerton of Villa Park hung onto their seats despite a heavy push from Republicans. Democrats failed to take state Rep. Michael McAuliffe's 20th Illinois House seat in one of the most expensive races in the country. The district includes parts of Rosemont, Park Ridge and Chicago.

A GOP pickup came in the least surprising place possible: The seat held by retiring Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo, who often voted with Republicans on key budget issues, was won by the GOP.

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A week after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, that seat was lost by a Democrat with the last name of Bartman.

Downstate did

Despite the area's tendency to vote Republican at the top of the ticket, Democratic lawmakers largely populated the southern tip of the state.

Until now.

Democrats state Sen. Gary Forby of Benton and state Rep. John Bradley of Marion lost the seats they'd held for more than a decade at the southern tip of the state. Rauner's effort to pull more allies to Springfield worked elsewhere downstate, too, for a possible total of five flipped seats.

The Trump factor

The presidential race could have played a role in the battle for the Capitol.

Bush and Cullerton held on in Lake and DuPage counties, which both landed in Democrat Hillary Clinton's column by margins of more than 10 percentage points each. But Forby's and Bradley's counties went more than 68 percent for Trump.

Why does it matter?

The GOP gains in the house make it impossible for Democrats to override Rauner vetoes without Republican help.

Those vetoes could be -- and have been -- an important factor in the ongoing budget gridlock in Springfield as well as in the ongoing battle between Rauner and the state's largest public employee union.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Democrats in the House largely hadn't been able to override Rauner on those big issues before. But it's more difficult for them now.

The fight over the first budget of Rauner's administration lasted more than a year and is set to kick off once again when lawmakers return to Springfield soon.

And other issues at play could lead to gridlock.

For example ...

Long before Election Day, the 2018 race for governor began.

Rauner has said he plans to run for a second term, and the talk about which Democrats might run against him started for real at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this summer.

The race for seats in Springfield on Election Day was often described as a "proxy war" between Rauner and Madigan, but 2018 would put Rauner back on the ballot and many of the seats fought over Tuesday will be contested again.

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