55th District hopefuls tout bipartisan appeal
At a time when politicians and their supporters are becoming more narrowly defined by party, the candidates for state representative in the 55th District say they believe independents and voters from the opposite party could cast ballots for them Nov. 6.
In his campaign for a fourth term, Democratic incumbent and former Des Plaines mayor Marty Moylan is being challenged by first-time Republican candidate Marilyn Smolenski of Park Ridge.
Smolenski says her independence from both Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner should win her bipartisan support. She describes herself as a means to end Madigan's decadeslong leadership of the state House.
"A lot of Democrats and independents I'm speaking to say Madigan is the reason the state is the way that it is," she said. "What can we do about Madigan? Well, what you can do is stop voting for people who vote for Madigan. And my opponent has voted for Madigan all three times.
"(Moylan) votes for what he can vote for, what he's told to vote for, period," Smolenski continued. "And if he wasn't doing what Madigan wanted him to, Madigan wouldn't have given him $1 million."
Moylan argues that Smolenski has the backing of conservative voices uncharacteristic of the 55th District's residents. While he has received financial support from the Democratic Party, he said the GOP os not supporting Smolenski because her views are too extreme.
"I'll tell you who is supporting her, (Lake Forest businessman) Dick Uihlein and (conservative radio talk show host Dan) Proft," Moylan said.
According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, Uihlein has contributed $5,400 to Smolenski's campaign. Illinois Liberty PAC, which is associated with Proft, has contributed $3,000. Illinois Opportunity Project, which also lists Proft among its leaders, has made an $11,100 contribution to Smolenski's campaign and $9,944.41 in in-kind contributions of services.
"You want to be state rep, you've actually got to do something and have more than 'anti-Madigan,'" Moylan said. "I vote for the district. I vote for my independents."
The 55th District includes parts of Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg and Chicago's Edison Park neighborhood.