As a small business owner, Greg Hopkins is frustrated by the nation’s sour economy and torn on how to vote in November.Read more here.
Two years ago, he was among the voters who helped Democrat Debbie Halvorson win a seat in Congress from a traditionally Republican district southwest of Chicago. But Hopkins is unhappy with the results, particularly watching banks get a bailout while he struggled to find financing for his business.
“People are looking for a change that has been promised that didn’t come,” he said at his New Lenox store, A Cozy Fireplace.
Now Hopkins is thinking about voting for Halvorson’s challenger, a little-known Air Force pilot who has Sarah Palin’s endorsement.
Halvorson, along with Democrats in two other Illinois congressional districts, is fighting for survival against a wave of voter frustration. Republicans hope to capture the majority of Illinois seats for the first time in seven years, helping the national GOP win control of the U.S. House.
Polls, intensifying Tea Party presence and an anti-Democrat national mood suggest it’s possible.
“It’s an important message to send to Obama: ’Here are some seats we’re going to take back that are right in your backyard,”’ said Tom Erickson, a National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman. “The failures of your administration are going to help take these seats back.”
Halvorson’s 11th District, which stretches from Chicago’s south suburbs to Bloomington, may be the Republicans’ chief target. Another is the 14th in Chicago’s western suburbs, where Rep. Bill Foster holds a seat once held by House Speaker Denny Hastert.
Finally, Republicans think they have a chance to defeat Rep. Phil Hare in the 17th, a sprawling district that includes both farm areas and small industrial cities like Decatur.
If Republicans take all three and no other seats change parties, the GOP would end up with 10 of Illinois’ 19 House seats.
Halvorson got a whopping 58 percent that year, compared to 35 percent for her GOP opponent. Things aren’t looking so good for her now.
Political analysts say the district is likely to go Republican. Her challenger, 32-year-old Adam Kinzinger, has backing from Palin and tea party groups.
“People are pretty frustrated in this district,” said Glenn Nixon, 40, a police officer who lives in Bourbonnais and is involved in the tea party movement. “Adam is sincere in his drive to serve America. He’s not going to kowtow. He’s going to make the hard decisions.”
The Democrats have tried to paint Republican candidates as extreme by calling attention to the unpopular ideas espoused by groups endorsing the challengers. Maybe Kinzinger wants to privatize Social Security, Halvorson suggests. Maybe Republican Bobby Schilling wants to eliminate the minimum wage, says Hare.
Hare won his seat in 2006 after Lane Evans retired, then he ran unopposed in 2008.
But that comfort level has been shaken, prompting Hare to run his first television ad in nearly four years. The Washington veteran’s ad scolds Washington for shipping American jobs overseas and accuses his opponent of backing trade deals and corporate tax breaks that would hurt workers further.
The challenger has targeted Hare’s vote for health care reform and his support for using an Illinois prison to house Guantanamo detainees, among other things. Schilling, who owns a pizzeria, said his focus is balancing the budget. He’s also pledged to reject any pay raises, use his own health insurance and serve only eight years.
“I’m not one of those Washington insiders,” he said. “People are looking for a clean break.”
Like Hare, Foster sometimes sounds like the challenger, not the incumbent.
He voted against a Democratic budget and cap-and-trade-legislation. The physicist calls his opponent, state Sen. Randy Hultgren, a “career politician” and argues Hultgren’s work for an investment firm contributed to the national collapse of housing values.
Hultgren rejects those allegations and accuses Foster of not being visible in the district. “He’s not there listening to people,” said Hultgren.
Adam Kinzinger, candidate for the 11th District, has been covered on C4C on multiple occasions. See here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Bobby Schilling, candidate for the 17th District, has also been covered. See here and here.
Let's meet Randy Hultgren, candidate for the 14th District. Hultgren currently is serving the Illinois state senate. He has the endorsement of several pro-life and pro second amendment groups as well as backing from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. You can read more about Senator Hultgren here. His first election ad is displayed below.