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The great exodus

Wednesday, Sep 20, 2017

* AP

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)

    Michael McAuliffe Republican 1996
    Jim Durkin (95-03) Republican 2006
    Keith Sommer Republican 1999

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!!

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Fax Machine - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 9:51 am:

    The real reason a House Member would be concerned about his colleagues tenure - he wants a lower license plate number!

  2. - Sherman Exit - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 9:51 am:

    off topic but any idea if Senator McCarter has been nominated as the new USA Ambassador to Kenya?

  3. - Fax Machine - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 9:52 am:

    Also, it’s amazing that Madigan will be the longest tenured member by a full 14 years over the next longest tenured member

  4. - Blue Bayou - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 9:52 am:

    Who knew that caustic ideological battles would result in term limits?

    This is what happens when governing is not seen as the goal of government.

  5. - Dornford Yates - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 9:54 am:

    Interesting in regard to arguments for term limits. Of course Rauner has only been interested in regard to one particular legislator.

  6. - Stones - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 9:55 am:

    It troubles me that people use social media such as FB and Twitter as a primary source of news. I don’t know if people just can’t read with a filter or if they just don’t want to. Social media seems to push people towards the fringes of politics. Perhaps it’s the anonymous nature of being able to blurt things out without being held personally accountable?

  7. - City Zen - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 9:59 am:

    You don’t have to work in the same role for 20 years to serve the public.

  8. - ZC - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 9:59 am:

    I get the argument about the drop in seniority, but what’s the average turnover / retirement rate in the IL House and Senate? Let’s put this in context.

  9. - Fax Machine - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 9:59 am:

    Also Mary Flowers looks amazing for someone with 32 years tenure - I guess it proves the saying “Black don’t crack”

  10. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:00 am:

    Rich….I think Phil Kadners column in ST was very interesting about Mike M and what is true motivations are in being a Rep. Keep control of everything Democrat in Ill and chicago….Judges,jobs, and also the Lawyers in Ill that feed off the system. Maybe some reps feel used by Mr Speaker.

  11. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:02 am:

    Is this number truly “unusually” high? Or is there just a consensus “feeling” that it is, that grows through repetition but is not based in fact?

    McCarter’s comments make no sense at all. I have no idea what he’s trying to say.

  12. - Anon221 - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:02 am:

    Possibly just as important, too, may be the years of service the aides to the legislators have. How high is that turnover when a long-time legislator leaves office. Team Rauner may want newbies in office so he can make them dance to his band, but, as Team Rauner has shown with BTIA(TM), lack of governing and legislative knowledge can result in mighty costly stumbles. This isn’t something that can be replaced with the Rauner Civics class requirement in high school.

  13. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:12 am:

    State Reps run for office with the best of intentions but realize, unlike most states, they are completely irrelevant “mushrooms” because of the Speaker’s power to control everything.

  14. - Steve - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:17 am:

    Illinois still needs formal term limits in the state constitution.

  15. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:18 am:

    @Stones - People got hooked on free news in the late ’90s and ’00s. As paywalls and adblocker shields have gone up on reputable sites, people turn to twitter and facebook for free news. Simple as that.

  16. - Give Me A Break - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:26 am:

    “State Reps run for office with the best of intentions but realize, unlike most states, they are completely irrelevant “mushrooms” because of the Speaker’s power to control everything.”

    I guess the mushrooms controlled by Durkin and Rauner don’t count in your book.

  17. - The Captain - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:30 am:

    Hoffman has 20+ years too, just non-consecutive.

  18. - Mongo - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:52 am:

    Steve, please explain. I think you can see here how a limitation on terms that naturally occurs is better than one that is forced upon the electeds.

    The GA is gonna have a lot of people walking around who don’t know what to do and how to do it, not unlike Allen S.

  19. - Ghost - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:09 am:

    Wait didnt Rauner crash our economy because of the critical need for term limits?

    Another Rauner solution in search of a problem

  20. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:13 am:

    ===Hoffman has 20+ years too, just non-consecutive.===

    He’s the Grover Cleveland of the Illinois House.

  21. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:37 am:

    Confusing. Do we value experienced people or do we want a revolving door of fresh new faces? As much a people complain about career public servants they then turn the other cheek and complain about lack of experience. Which do we want?

  22. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:39 am:

    ==a public that’s grown more hostile and vocal==

    I’ll say.

  23. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:39 am:

    The turnover is needed at the top.

  24. - Highland, IL - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:04 pm:

    === McCarter’s comments make no sense at all. I have no idea what he’s trying to say. ===

    He does like to hear himself talk. He’s an audience of one.

  25. - anon2 - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 1:07 pm:

    == Do we value experience or not?==

    Trump voters certainly don’t. Neither do advocates of term limits. Experience matters in every other profession, but purportedly not in elective office.

  26. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    Why do term limits enjoy tremendous bipartisan support from Illinois voters?

    Because of the legacy of the experienced part time legislative leaders in Springfield.

    Personally, they have done very well by virtue of their connection to Illinois Government.

    Speaker Madigan boasts of a 7 figure income in his other part time job.

    Their constituents are left holding the bag for their overspending and undertaxing for decades.

  27. - Rod - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 1:54 pm:

    Durkin is right it is tough to be an elected member of the General Assembly right now. Especially given the fact that both Republicans and Democrats have voted for a state budget that is not fully funded and requires a combo of cuts and tax increases to be implemented relatively soon. That will produce a lot of unhappy campers in the rotunda, going office to office, that many members of the Assembly simply no longer want to deal with.

  28. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 2:05 pm:

    ===State Reps run for office with the best of intentions but realize, unlike most states, they are completely irrelevant “mushrooms” because of the Speaker’s power to control everything===

    “State Reps run for office with the best of intentions but realize, unlike most states, they are completely irrelevant “mushrooms” because of the Rauner’s power to control everything, or let Dan Proft ruin your career or reputation.”


  29. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 2:08 pm:

    ===Why do term limits enjoy tremendous bipartisan support from Illinois voters?

    Because of the legacy of the experienced part time legislative leaders in Springfield===

    Then go after a leadership team limit like California enacted?

    ===Personally, they have done very well by virtue of their connection to Illinois Government===

    … including the Raunerites that rolled over no matter their district’s needs? That’s fun.

    ===Speaker Madigan boasts of a 7 figure income in his other part time job===

    How’s Oberweis doing?

    McSweeney recently became a pauper?


    Code for “talking point finished”

  30. - Annoy - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 4:10 pm:

    What about John Cullerton

  31. - DuPage Bard - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 4:56 pm:

    All fully pensioned out and bringing home great perks for their years of service. There are very few Tier II Legislators leaving the GA these are all Tier I fully vested folks. Thanks for playing.

  32. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 5:00 pm:

    ===All fully pensioned out===

    Rep. Jimenez?

  33. - Generic Drone - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 9:17 pm:

    And every one of them retires with full pensions and free health insurance after only 8 years. Rediculous.

  34. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 9:45 pm:

    ==Every one of them retires with full pensions and free health insurance after only 8 years=

    Amazing. Please do take note that this is not the case for all public employees. Teachers get a full pension after 35 years and there is no free health insurance during employment or in retirement. In fact Teachers Retirement Insurance program is pretty pricey. My neighbor believed that one public employee is the same as the next and all get same benefits.

  35. - cc - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 2:20 am:

    I just want to thank everyone one of them that have left, no matter what political party, for their service. Very few have the wherewithall to serve their fellow citizens as each of them has; but I hope that of those still here in every elected positoon that care nothing for each citizen are soon replaced.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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