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Illinois’ leading lawyer-politicians helped spend record sums in their near-epic battle to control the Illinois General Assembly this year. And yet, 24 hours after Election Day, it appeared likely that the state’s Democrats will have managed to hold on to their narrow margin in the House, and the Republicans will have retained their slim majority in the Senate. Going in to the election, the Democrats controlled the Illinois House by a 62-56 seat margin, while the Republicans controlled the Illinois Senate by a 32-27 seat plurality. But, as the vote totals were gradually tabulated and released throughout Wednesday afternoon, the power of incumbency appears to have sabotaged any dreams of a dramatic shift in those margins and the state’s precarious balance of power. Of course, should either party get total control of the legislature, it would essentially be free to draw a one-sided political boundary mapped next year based on the latest U.S. Census Bureau statistics. And, in that now unlikely event, calling many of the political shots in the state for the next 10 years would be House Republican Leader Lee Daniels of Elmhurst or the Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago, both of whom are practicing lawyers. Madigan also doubles as the state Democratic Party chairman. The last time the state’s political boundaries for the General Assembly were redrawn, the Republicans controlled both houses of the state legislature — and the Democrats have never forgotten the political grief they’ve experienced since. Indeed, the stakes were so high and the goal believed to have been so attainable as Nov. 7 approached, that Daniels and Madigan threw hundreds of thousands of dollars in the eleventh hour from their respective state party war chests at the state’s many “it can go either way” races. For instance, GOP U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald’s former northwest suburban senate seat turned out to be one of the most expensive in state history as the local and state Democrats forked over close to $700,000 since April in the belief that their candidate for the post, Sue Walton, had a realistic shot at upsetting Wendell Jones, the one-time mayor of Palatine, who was appointed to fill the 27th District vacancy created when lawyer-politician Fitzgerald was sent to Washington, D.C. Likewise, the local and state Republicans invested heavily in Lake Forest attorney Greg Kazarian’s ability to upend Lake County Democratic chairman and incumbent Senator Terry Link in the 30th District race, largely because the southeast Lake County territory traditionally leans toward the GOP. Then, in the race to win control of the House, Republican Daniels had made no secret of targeting the 116th, 117th and 118th districts in the southernmost part of the state because, although the area traditionally sends Democrats to Springfield, they have tended to be conservative “Reagan Democrats.” In addition, Daniels was reportedly keen on regaining the 63rd House seat in McHenry County, a Republican stronghold, where Tom Salvi, brother of popular lawyer-politician Al Salvi, was expected by the GOP to beat incumbent Jack Franks, the Woodstock Democrat and lawyer who won election two years ago thanks largely to a Republican Party that split into feuding factions. THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME? Clearly fueling the state parties’ largess to the targeted local legislative races was the belief held by leaders of both national parties that their respective presidential candidates, Bush and Gore, would carry Illinois and that their expected margins of victory would surely help their state colleagues win, too. In fact, the state’s media was filled during the weeks leading up to Election Day with reports of how national party leaders were pouring untold sums into the state’s party coffers, in part, for redistribution among winnable local races. And the candidates made sure their sprint to the finish line campaign schedules included stops in the vacillating Land of Lincoln. Even former Mayer Brown & Platt partner, U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Gore’s national campaign manager, William Daley, suddenly started to make public appearances here with lawyer-mayor Richard M. Daley. But, such visions of political dominance, if not glory, all seem to have turned out to be so much wishful thinking. In the end, most incumbents in all parts of the state won reelection. In some cases, the win may have been “ugly.” But, they were wins, nevertheless. As we publish, for instance, Palatine Republican Jones appeared headed for re-election to the state senate, although thanks to a much narrower victory than once expected. Likewise, Vernon Hills incumbent Democrat Link was being projected as having successfully beaten back Republican Kazarian, a partner in Chicago’s Pedersen & Houpt, for his senatorial post. Again, as of Wednesday afternoon, incumbent Democrats were leading in all three House districts considered winnable by the Republicans. And Republican Salvi appeared headed to defeat at the hands of Democrat Franks. The Associated Press did report that the state’s Democrats could yet be in a position to gain a net two House seats — but, even in that best-case scenario, the Madigan-led Dems would fall one vote short of their takeover goal. “You need to make a case to fire incumbents,” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown reportedly concluded.

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