Illinois residents aren’t the only ones throwing up their hands at the gridlock and increasingly polarized politics that have defined state government in recent years. More and more, fed-up and frustrated Illinois legislators are heading for the exits.
More than two-dozen legislators — about 15 percent of the General Assembly — have either resigned months into the current session or said they won’t seek re-election. They are Democrats and Republicans, rank-and-file moderates and those in leadership posts, including House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, who said last week that she’s ending her nearly 40-year legislative career when her term expires.
It’s an exodus that longtime Statehouse observers say is unusual not just for the high number of lawmakers leaving, but for the reasons many legislators are giving: frustration with not being able to reach compromises, the stress of the two-year budget impasse that only recently ended, year-round campaigning and a public that’s grown more hostile and vocal.
* It may have been lost in the discussion about Dan Proft, but as I told you yesterday Leader Durkin addressed this topic at the City Club…
Durkin also claimed “natural attrition” is why many of his members have retired this year. The average age is about 70 of the retirees, he said. And he said other members are relatively new and found out the job just wasn’t for them. “The antagonism, the stress and the anxiety” all combined to convince them to get out.
* The Tribune has a bit more…
“I will say that what happened over the past three years and the logjam, I think some of the antagonism and the stress and the anxiety that people have down there, it just wasn’t working for them,” Durkin told members of the City Club of Chicago on Tuesday.
“It’s tough in Washington,” the veteran lawmaker from Western Springs added. “I think we’re seeing it in every area, every state, even local governments. It’s more challenging. But again, challenges are what this is about. And that’s what we need to be focused on.” […]
“Social media and money has had a major impact, and the campaigns are not getting any nicer. And they won’t,” Durkin said after his City Club address. “So your skin’s got to be even tougher than it was two years ago to withstand a contested primary or a general election.”
Fear of facing a contested primary was evident among the ranks of Republican lawmakers who voted against Rauner’s wishes in helping to enact a state budget in July to help end the stalemate. Rauner’s handpicked Illinois GOP chairman, Tim Schneider, put out a statement at the time regarding the income tax hike saying he was “confident voters will hold those politicians accountable for choosing Mike Madigan over the people of Illinois.”
“Social media” may be code for “the Illinois Policy Institute’s Facebook operation.”
* Speaking of the Illinois Policy Institute, here’s a piece from its news service…
You might think that 20 percent turnover of the Illinois legislature would be an argument against term limits.
But State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, said the wave of retirement announcements is actually the case for limiting legislative terms.
Term limits “check the motivation why people serve,” McCarter said. “Do they serve just for their pension? Or do they serve for the good of their constituents to change the trajectory of the state?”
* And a House member/subscriber compiled this yesterday…
Hi Rich (please don’t have to mention you got this from me if you use it)
But I thought you might find it interesting that with the new GA of 2019 (101 GA) there will only be FIVE Democrats with 20+ years in office (LCL is next with 16)
Michael Madigan Democrat 1971
Mary Flowers Democrat 1985
Lou Lang Democrat 1987
Daniel Burke Democrat 1991
Sara Feigenholtz Democrat 1995
And here are the Republican 3 (Brady is close at 18 and if you add up David Harris he is at 18 as well)
So, there are only eight legislators with 20+ years of service left out of 118 legislators - that’s assuming all incumbents declared for re-election win in 2018.
Now that is some serious turnover!!