Although much of the public's attention has focused on the presidential and senatorial races, there are other contests for voters to consider on Nov. 2. Namely, House seats in Washington, D.C. and Springfield, Ill. are up for grabs.
Some of the races are particularly intriguing. Democrat Tari (pronounced 'Terry') Renner, a college professor and McLean County board member, is vying with incumbent Republican Jerry Weller for Illinois's 11th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Normal, Joliet, and Kankakee. Renner has attacked Weller for, among other things, supporting workplace regulations that eliminate overtime pay. Renner recently unveiled an economic stimulus plan that includes tax cuts that will create jobs in manufacturing.
According to Matt Glavin, Renner's campaign manager, the candidates are scheduled to debate Oct. 27 in Bloomington. This event will be the first time in eight years the incumbent has debated an opponent.
Normally, a long-term incumbent candidate would be considered a shoo-in to keep his seat. However, this is certainly not the case in the race for Illinois's 8th Congressional District, which includes Rolling Meadows, Mundelein, Schaumburg, and McHenry.
Democrat Melissa Bean is a 42-year-old businesswoman who is squaring off against 73-year-old incumbent Phil Crane. Crane was elected in 1969 to fill a vacancy when U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld took a post with the Nixon administration; Crane is the longest-serving Republican in Congress. However, fellow Republicans are concerned that Crane could lose his seat because of people's annoyance with his perceived inactivity and also because of general voter apathy. Two other things make this race even more interesting. Not only has Bean raised over half a million dollars (which is unusually high), but in the 2002 election she won an unexpected 43 percent of the vote.
Another long-serving Republican, Rep. Henry Hyde, is facing a challenge for the 6th Congressional District from Democrat Christine Cegelis. (This district includes cities such as Wheaton, Addison, and Elk Grove Village.) This, unfortunately for Cegelis, may be a true David-and-Goliath battle. Cegelis, a consultant, is a political novice who has raised little money. Hyde, who is probably best known for being the lead House manager during the impeachment trial of then-U.S. president Bill Clinton, has three decades of experience. However, Cegelis, who has been endorsed by Gov. Howard Dean, believes she stands a good chance of winning because Hyde's last two opponents, who were not serious contenders, still garnered 35 and 41 percent of the vote.
Perhaps the most eye-catching contest in Illinois is the 92nd State Representative District race between Democratic State Rep. Ricca Slone of Peoria and 23-year-old Republican upstart Aaron Schock. Schock's party has hailed him as a wunderkind ever since, at the age of 19, he won the District 150 school board presidency. He has even caught the eye of the state's top Republican, Tom Cross, who has visited Peoria to help Schock's campaign. However, it is some of Schock's views as well as his aptitude that some find alarming. For example, he recently told The Illinois Leader that if a person is pro-life, he should stay that way even if the child is 'conceived because of a difficult situation'—which some have interpreted to include rape or incest. Moreover, Schock even has a problem with abortions performed to preserve the life of the mother.
There have been whispers downstate regarding Schock's sexual orientation. However, when contacted by Windy City Times, Schock denied being gay. When asked, he simply said 'No ... I'm not.'