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Thanks to a wicked, Democratic-controlled gerrymander of Illinois's congressional districts, the path to a majority for House Democrats runs through my home state of Illinois.

Six districts are in play for the Democrats, five of which are held by Republican incumbents (IL-8, IL-10, IL-11, IL-13, IL-17), and one of which is held by a Democratic incumbent (IL-12).

I'll start with the one Democratic-held district that Republicans are making a play for, and that is the 12th District, which includes much of Southwestern Illinois. Democratic incumbent Jerry Costello is not seeking another term, and, after Brad Harriman won the Democratic primary, Harriman withdrew from the race for health reasons, and Democratic county chairmen slated Bill Enyart, a businessman and Adjunct General in the Illinois National Guard, as the replacement nominee. Unlike Enyart, Republican Jason Plummer, who narrowly lost the lieutenant gubernatorial race in 2010 to Democrat Sheila Simon, has been in this race the whole way. The 12th District is ancestrally Democratic, but many self-identified Democrats in the 12th District are moderate or even conservative. Expect this race to be a close one.

Now, onto the five pickup opportunities for Illinois Democrats...

Republican loudmouth Joe Walsh narrowly defeated Democrat Melissa Bean in the 8th District in 2010, and Walsh is running for a second term. This district is almost certain to flip back to Democratic control for several reasons: Walsh is a far-right loudmouth who berates constituents, owed $117,000 in back child support before finally paying up after being ripped apart in the media, plagiarized a legislative proposal from Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY), and claimed that his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs after a Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting over Iraq was shot down, was not a "true hero", and redistricting made the 8th District much more Democratic than it was prior to redistricting, going from a McHenry County-based district to an Elgin and Schaumburg-based district. Tammy Duckworth, who I consider to be a true hero, is strongly favored to defeat Walsh in November. This is the strongest pickup opportunity for Democrats in the entire country.

Republican freshman Bob Dold narrowly defeated Democrat Dan Seals in a 2010 open-seat race in the 10th District, which is centered around Waukegan in Lake County. Redistricting made the already Democratic-leaning district even more so, and Dold will face Democrat Brad Schneider, who won a four-way Democratic primary, in November. Dold may have to outperform President Obama by double digits in order to win re-election, and, if any Republican can do it, it would be him, as he has the backing of teachers' unions, which normally back Democratic candidates, and Dold has tried to build a moderate reputation. This is going to be a close race, but Schneider appears to be very slightly favored.

Longtime Republican incumbent Judy Biggert now finds herself in the new 11th District, a Democratic-leaning district that includes Joliet and Aurora. Biggert has drawn a top-tier challenger in Bill Foster, a former U.S. Representative who lost the old 14th District in 2010 to Republican Randy Hultgren. Both Biggert and Foster have moderate reputations, so, given the Democratic lean of the district, Foster is favored to win, but he's going to have to put up a fight to do so.

Longtime Republican incumbent Tim Johnson found himself in the new 13th District, a swing district which includes much of Central Illinois, and, after winning the Republican primary, Johnson bailed out of the race, and Republican county chairmen selected Rodney Davis, a congressional aide, to replace Johnson as the Republican nominee. David Gill, an emergency room physician, narrowly defeated Greene County State's Attorney Matt Goetten in the Democratic primary. Both candidates are perceived as hard-liners within their respective parties, and the 13th District is a swing district, so expect this race to be close.

Republican freshman Bobby Schilling defeated Democrat Phil Hare, who ran probably the worst re-election campaign I've ever seen in my life, in 2010 in the 17th District, and Schilling is now running for re-election in an even more Democratic district than the old 17th District. Schilling's Democratic opponent is Cheri Bustos, a member of the East Moline City Council. This race could be closer than one would think based on the Democratic lean of the district, as Bustos's opinion poll numbers do not look good, however, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Bustos is slightly favored to defeat Schilling.

Originally posted to Aaron Camp on DailyKos on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 02:13 AM PDT.

Also republished by Land of Lincoln Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I Live In Jerry's District (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loose Fur, Turbonerd

    and honestly, it is hard from the local press to tell what is going on. But worried we'll lose this seat.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 02:17:10 AM PDT

  •  You Used A Perfect Word "Ancestrally" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DownstateDemocrat, Odysseus

    Democratic. Yes it is cause of Jerry Costello. I will "out" myself here. I have a $500M airport in my town of 8,700. Put in from "pork" Jerry got us "joint use" so they didn't close Scott Air Force Base, the largest employer in the entire St. Louis area.

    I live here. I am a liberal. I can tell you this isn't a liberal area even if we elect Jerry often times with 65%+ of the vote. Jerry and his family RUNS everything where I live. He is the MAN for better or worse.

    Not telling what will happen here ...

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 02:28:01 AM PDT

    •  Costello is basically an IL version of John Murtha (5+ / 0-)

      Illinois's very own Prince of Pork is finally exiting politics for good.

      Jason Plummer is the son of a lumber magnate, so I'm guessing Plummer is going to spend quite a bit of his daddy's money in an attempt to buy himself a seat in Congress. I don't know much about Bill Enyart, but I'm hoping that Enyart is genuinely interested in representing the people of Southwestern Illinois instead of just trying to bring home the bacon like Costello has been doing for years.

      Joe Lieberman, Mike Madigan, Andrew Cuomo, and Tim Cullen...why are they Democrats?

      by DownstateDemocrat on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 03:04:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That IMHO Is Very Accurate (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, DownstateDemocrat

        I often joke he must have "pictures" of every politician in the area cause nobody will even attempt to challenge him. In St. Clair County his family runs everything. Since I live here I am not so happy about that. Pick something, his family runs it.

        And folks that don't know this part of IL, well outside of Chicago and the burbs, well St. Clair County is kind of a key part of the state. Like the biggest county in population and wealth.

        When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

        by webranding on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 03:15:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  with so much at stake (0+ / 0-)

    it would makes sense to me not to ignore talk radio action in the state.

    the GOP is coordinating their TV  and  radio attacks on dem candidates. the radio is going to do a lot more work over time, basically free (paid by local business sponsors) in general tying in with national themes but also it will be localized. the GOP think tanks will be a source of guest talkers. it'll ramp up toward election time and may include attacks based on rumors and paid callers.

    why can't the state dem party HQ put together a few computers online with some transcription software to automate a searchable database of what the state RW blowhards are saying about their candidates?

    search it a few times a day for attacks and respond to lies and rumors. a candidate that might be particularly strong on alt energy might get attacked on radio by a heritage foundation denier guest, for instance.

     take the results to the media ("here's what the liar said on this station") and challenge the BS instead of waiting for the results to show up weeks later when it's too late as lies in letters to the editor, etc., which is the usual pattern in this country the last 20 years. all state dem campaigns  need to be doing  that for their candidates- if they don't know what's happening on the radio, the right's best weapon, they'r enot really getting their candidates' backs.

    is the swiftboating happening from a soapbox with local university team logos all over it? many of the RW megastations have athletic associations with state universities. are student and staff supporters of the dem candidate OK  with their unis endorsing the GOP and their candidates and radio stations that work to defund their universities, raise their  student aid interest rates and tuition, push racism and sexism, deny global warming, elect regents who do that, etc?

    i recently heard the NM sec of state get a whole hour on the local morning blowhard's show to make excuses for a voter purge happening just before the election. during that show there was an ad for the UNM lobos. that was a week or two after i got a few minutes to talk to the state dem party chair to suggest what i suggested above. he was generous with his time and listened but he said they really didn't have the time or recourses. oh well.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 05:24:52 AM PDT

  •  I hope you are right. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DownstateDemocrat

    But based upon the level of enthusiasm and visibility in the Peoria market of IL-17, I would say that Bustos has her work cut out for her.  Many longtime activists were abused by Terry Towery who was Colleen Callahan's campaign manager when she ran against Congressman Aaron Schock.  It may be unfair, but the Callahan campaign's callousness may rub off on her sister, Cheri Bustos.  Also the Bustos campaign has yet to reach out in any meaningful way to Peoria's African-American community and has yet to tap into organized labor.  Based on paid media and number of yard signs, bumper stickers and the like around Peoria, as of now I predict, she will lose the Peoria Metropolitan areas which will make her task more difficult as Schilling ramps up the spending.

    I like Gill's chances very much.  those who I know worked for Foster years ago have moved on, so I have no insight into that race.

    Best wishes, I know how tough it is to be a "downstate Democrat."

  •  Retaking the House (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bob152

    Thanks for this. Your summary of what's going on the the Illinois congressional races is enlightening. I've been looking for info related to Democratic chances of retaking the House and I find this helpful and encouraging.

    --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class!

    by cybersaur on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 09:02:01 AM PDT

  •  IL-12 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DownstateDemocrat

    I'm in IL-12. Enyart's in-person campaign is very active. We get very frequent updates and pics of all the constituent gatherings he has been to.

    As far as TV, his ad is very positive and highlights his military background. In a TV market that includes Kentucky and Missouri (where even the democratic ads brag about hating obama), his positivity really stands out.

    His opponent Plummer runs pure tea-bag anti-obama ads, complete with ominous music and halloweenish visuals. They refer to Enyart as a "millionaire trial lawyer" repeatedly.

    Should be close. The Enyart website is asking for volunteers.
    http://www.enyartforcongress2012.com/

  •  Biggert, Foster polling even (0+ / 0-)

    According to the last fundraising email Foster sent me - I live in IL-11 (nee' 13), Biggert is up by one. Given how unreliable district-level polling is at this point, I don't know what to make of it. However, I would not take that "Democratic-leaning" statement to the bank.

    Obama needs to do some campaigning here, even though he's got a lock on Illinois for his own reelection. He needs to help in downballot races like this one; Biggert's Republican base will be out in full force, and it will take a heroic Democratic turnout effort to unseat her.

    It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness - Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Fish in Illinois on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 11:30:19 AM PDT

  •  I live in east central Illinois (0+ / 0-)

    was very sadly re-districted out of Il. 13.

    Dr. David Gill is an awesome man, a superb candidate. This is his 4th run as a congressman (other times were all against Johnson) and I'm supporting his race bigtime even though it's no longer my district.

    Please help him with any funds you might have available- he can do this!

    He's on Act Blue: https://secure.actblue.com/...

    Here is his profile: http://www.gill2012.org/

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