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“A bloodbath for Republicans” at the Statehouse: Dems gain veto-proof majorities
Tuesday’s election results represented what one GOP strategist late Tuesday soberly called “a bloodbath for Illinois Republicans” at the Statehouse.
With the defeat of four House Republican incumbents and a net gain of seven seats, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) secured a 71-47 veto-proof majority in the Illinois House.
The results were similar — and more historic — in the Senate for Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), who picked up a net gain of five seats, giving him a 40-19 veto-proof majority.
Those stunning gains also figure to weaken Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who no longer will have the capability of singlehandedly blocking legislation with his veto pen.
“The map the Democrats drew performed as they designed,” said Patty Schuh, a spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont).
The effect of the Democratic-friendly legislative maps coupled with President Barack Obama’s huge numbers mean DuPage County will be represented by a Democrat in the state Senate for the first time in Illinois history.
That person is Villa Park Village President Tom Cullerton, who also happens to be a third cousin of the Senate president.
The other historic footnote from Tuesday’s election is that no party has ever had a 40-vote majority in the Illinois Senate, the Senate president told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“It was a perfect combination of the president of the United States being from Illinois and winning so big, the redrawing of boundaries to reflect a shift of population that attracted Democrats and really good candidates,” Senate President Cullerton said.
The lone incumbent Senate Republican to lose Tuesday was state Sen. Carole Pankau (R-Carol Stream), who has been a state lawmaker since 1993 and a senator since 2005. She lost to Tom Cullerton.
The other four seats were in open districts, including in the northern suburbs where Melinda Bush defeated Joe Neal. Bush, of Grayslake, won the Republican seat now held by state Sen. Suzi Schmidt (R-Lake Villa), who did not seek re-election after becoming embroiled in controversy over the release of embarrassing 911 tapes that recorded fights with her estranged husband.
A question that won’t become clear until later this year or early next year is how secure of a hold either Radogno or House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) may have on their legislative leader slots given the scale of Tuesday’s losses within their caucuses.
Asked about whether he thinks Radogno might face a challenge from within her caucus, the Senate president said that’s “totally up to them” but he’d be disappointed if she were ousted.
“Of course,” Cullerton said. “She’s a very nice person and very smart. She’s well intended. She cares about policy. I work with her on many things. We’ve accomplished a lot together.”
In the House, incumbent Republicans who lost included state Rep. Angelo “Skip” Saviano (R-Elmwood Park), Rep. Sidney Mathias (R-Buffalo Grove), Rep. Sandy Cole (R-Grayslake) and Rep. Richard Morthland (R-Cordova).
Saviano, a top member in House Minority Leader Tom Cross’ inner circle, was targeted by Madigan for defeat after he slurred Attorney General Lisa Madigan and publicly criticized the speaker for blocking Saviano-backed McCormick Place legislation that would have authorized refinancing McPier debt.
Saviano, who has been in the House since 1993, lost to a virtually invisible Madigan-backed candidate, Republican-turned-Democrat Kathleen Willis. She received more than $458,000 from political funds controlled by the speaker since July 1, state campaign records show.
Mathias, who has been in the House since 1999, lost to state Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills) in the only legislative election that pitted two incumbents against one another. Since July 1, state records show, Sente got even more than Willis from Madigan’s funds: more than $591,000.
With both chambers now having veto-proof majorities, Quinn’s veto authority becomes nearly meaningless after the new General Assembly is seated in January, though Cullerton said he doesn’t share that belief since there have only been two overrides so far of Quinn vetoes.
“The main thing is there’s no overtime to worry about anymore,” Cullerton said.