The new and newly powerful in the Illinois delegation
STATE SENATORS Lynn Martin and Harold Washington and Chicago newspaper publisher Gus Savage won election last month to become the newest members of the Illinois delegation in the House, but the biggest winners probably were veteran Congressmen Dan Rostenkowski of Chicago and Robert Michel of Peoria — two men who may end up practically running the House.
Neither Rostenkowski nor Michel faced stiff opposition in the November 4 election; each won handily. But their political fortunes probably will be determined this month in Washington, when Democratic and Republican members of the House determine who their respective leaders will be in the new Congress.
Michel, 57, who defeated Democratic state Sen. John Knuppel last month to win a 13th term from the 18th District encompassing Peoria and Pekin, has been the second ranking Republi-can in the House since 1975 and has been campaigning for the No. 1 job for at least a year. He is the favorite to succeed House Minority Leader John Rhodes of Arizona, who said he would not seek a leadership post again if the Republicans remain the minority party in the House after the November elections. Michel, elected minority whip in January 1975, expects his colleagues to elect him leader of the Republicans in the House (see May 1980 "Washington" column). His only announced opponent is Rep. Guy Vander Jagt of Michigan, and Michel has been in the House 10 years longer than Vander Jagt. As minority leader, Michel's duties would be to make sure Republicans vote the same way on legislation important to the party leadership, in this case President Ronald Reagan, and to try to convince Democrats to join them.
Ironically, Rostenkowski, 52, a Chicago Democrat who won a 12th term in the 8th District on the city's near northwest side by defeating Republican challenger Walter Zilke last month, may benefit from the Republican landslide that swept many of his Democratic colleagues out of office. Majority Whip John Brademas of Indiana, a 22-year veteran and the second ranking Democrat in the House, was upset by his Republican opponent last month. House Speaker Thomas O'Neill will handpick the new majority whip, and Rostenkowski is the favorite to get that post. Rostenkowski, once Mayor Richard J. Daley's spokesman in Washington, has worked closely with O'Neill in recent years on legislation important to the national Democratic leadership, and the two men have developed a good working and personal relationship.
The results of last month's election may leave Michel in charge of the Republicans in the House and Rostenkowski the second ranking Democrat in the House. Also, the Republican majority in the Senate could provide Charles Percy with the chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee, although Percy may be considered too liberal by Reagan's conservative standards.
The November elections had no effect on the political composition of the Illinois delegation in the House. The Republicans maintained their 14-10 edge over the Democrats. And the only real surprise was in the 24th District in southern Illinois where incumbent Democratic Rep. Paul Simon just barely won reelection. Simon, 51, of Carbondale, beat Republican challenger John T. Anderson, a public relations management consultant from Marion, by just a couple thousand votes and won a fourth term in office. Simon said his support for Sen. Edward Kennedy (D., Mass.) for president may have hurt him, along with his failure to respond to "some wild charges" by a third party candidate who, among other things, alleged Simon wanted to outlaw guns. Simon also said some supporters of Rep. John B. Anderson for president may have voted for his opponent, thinking they were the same person.
Pollsters indicated the closest House race in Illinois would probably be in the 20th District that encompasses the Springfield and Quincy areas. Former state Rep. David Robinson, who is Jewish, made a major issue in the campaign of incumbent Paul Findley's contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization. The American Jewish community contributed funds to Robinson in his bid to unseat the 20-year veteran, but Findley received about 58 percent of the vote. The victory did not erase any of the bitterness that had developed, however. After Robinson conceded, Findley told reporters: "It doesn't hurt my feelings a bit that my opponent has decided he's a loser."
State Sen. Lynn Martin, a Republican from Rockford, easily defeated Winnebago County Treasurer Douglas Aurand in the 16th District and will replace John B. Anderson in the House. Anderson decided not to seek reelection and ran for president instead.
In the 1st District, on the south side of Chicago, Democratic state Sen. Harold Washington, who beat incumbent Bennett Stewart in the spring primary, easily defeated token Republican challenger George Williams. And in the 2nd District, also on Chicago's south side, black newspaper publisher Gus Savage defeated Republican Marsha Harris for the seat of incumbent Democrat Morgan Murphy, who is retiring after 10 years in the House because of ill health.
Incumbents were reelected in the other districts.
December 1980/Illinois Issues/33