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Election 1990

Quinn prevails; incumbents upset

Peg Breslin, the candidate Democrats slated for state treasurer, lost to Pat Quinn, and four incumbent legislators (three Republicans and one Democrat) were unseated in the March 20 primary. Not long after the polls closed, victors pointed to the tax stance of a few losers and proclaimed an anti-tax movement. Yet, the forces driving some of the defeats involved more than taxes. Some were as straightforward as name recognition and abortion; others were as complex as declining party strength.

Quinn, a Cook County native, edged Breslin 450,217 to 422,295. Political insiders speculate that he benefitted from name recognition gained in a series of populist initiatives, including the 1980 Cutback Amendment that reduced the size of the Illinois house by one-third. Jack Van Der Slik, director of the Illinois Legislative Studies Center at Sangamon State University, sees in Quinn's 27,985-vote Chicago margin a weakness in the Democratic party organization.

The Democrats failed, too, to engineer a win for state Sen. Ted Lechowicz in his run for Cook County Board president. Winnetka lawyer Richard J. Phelan used a $1 million television blitz to prove that a candidate can win without party backing in Cook County. Besides Lechowicz, Phelan defeated Eugene Pincham, a black former appellate judge, and County Clerk Stanley Kusper. Phelan will face state Sen. Aldo DeAngelis (R-40, Olympia Fields) in November.

The Democrats' choice for comptroller, Dawn dark Netsch, easily outdistanced her primary opponents, besting Rep. Woody Bowman (D-4, Evanston), Shawn Collins, a Joliet Housing Authority commissioner, and Bill Sarto, Kane County Democratic chairman. Netsch ran strongly in most counties and garnered 48 percent of the total vote.

In the legislative races, Rep. Penny Pullen (R-55, Park Ridge), a staunch anti-abortion and anti-tax force in the House, lost by an apparent 31-vote margin to political newcomer Rosemary Mulligan, a Des Plaines paralegal. Pro-choice forces who poured money into the Mulligan campaign claimed victory saying that the abortion sentiment had swung in their favor. If the official vote shows her losing, Pullen can challenge the results.

Rep. Gene L. Hoffman (R-40, Elmhurst) was another casualty of the March 20 primary. The 23-year veteran was toppled by a swell of anti-tax sentiment in the DuPage County area which has been hit by climbing property taxes. Hoffman, the only DuPage legislator to support the 1989 temporary state income tax hike, lost to attorney Daniel Cronin and his anti-tax platform. The same anti-tax, it's-time-for-a-change sentiment felled DuPage County Board Chairman Jack Knuepfer, who was ousted from his position by a third place finish in the GOP primary.

Seven-year incumbent and conservative Rep. Ralph Barger (R-39, Wheaton) lost his bid for renomination to Carol Stream educator Vincent Persico. The only incumbent Democrat to lose was five-term veteran Rep. Robert Krska (D-22, Chicago) who was ousted by Daniel Burke, brother of 14th Ward Ald. and Committeeman Edward Burke.

Retirements and ambition for higher office opened up eight other seats, namely:

Rep. Breslin's departure from the 75th House District will pit Democrat Tom P. Walsh, LaSalle County clerk, against Republican Martin J. Rue.

Rep. John Countryman's (R-76, De Kalb) decision to seek a circuit judgeship in November left Republicans searching for a replacement. DeKalb County Farm Bureau administrator Brad Burzynski won the GOP nomination and the chance to face Democrat Robert Tisch, a law student at Northern Illinois University.

Rep. Calvin Sutker's (D-56, Skokie) unsuccessful run for the Cook County clerk nomination leaves Democrat Jeffrey Shoenberg and Republican Eunice Conn to vie for the seat.

Rep. Bowman's departure leaves Democrat consumer activist Janice Schakowsky opposing Republican Evanston Mayor Joan Barr in the fourth House district.

Rep. John Hallock's (R-67, Rockford) decision to seek Lynn Martin's congressional seat set up a November contest between Republican John Terranova, former chairman of the Winnebago County Board, and Democrat Michael Rotello, Winnebago County auditor.

Rep. LeRoy Van Duyne's (D-83, Joliet) retirement leaves Democratic Joliet township supervisor John McGuire opposing Republican Joliet Mayor Charles Connor.

Rep. Robert Terzich's (D-48, Chicago) retirement cleared the path for a fall race between Democrat James Phelan and Republican Wayne Straza.

Rep. Mike Tate's (R-102, Decatur) last minute announcement that he would resign April 1 to take a lobbying job sparked a write-in campaign for the Democratic nomination. Macon County Board Chairman Donald Dipper garnered 753 votes to run against whomever the GOP names to replace Tate.

Another write-in campaign helped Sen. Roger Keats (R-29, Glencoe) regain the ballot spot he lost when the State Board of Elections removed him from the ballot due to too few valid signatures on his nominating petitions.

Angie Watson

April 1990/Illinois Issues/9

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