* Jerry Joyce was my state Senator growing up in Iroquois County. His defeat of Ed McBroom, who ran the Kankakee County Republican Party like the Democrats ran Chicago, was a stunning upset.
Those upsets were pretty common in the post-Watergate wave year of 1974, but that one had huge local and statewide consequences. Jerry’s win not only drove a big stake into the local GOP machine’s heart, but it also helped flip the Senate to the Democrats, which (aside from the time that Gov. Thompson wouldn’t let go of the gavel) the party did not relinquish for 18 years.
His win, along with several others, remade the Senate, not always to Mayor Richard J. Daley’s liking. Jerry was part of the “Crazy Eights,” a group of mainly Downstate Democrats who refused to vote lockstep with old man Daley (click here for a good backgrounder)
Jerry was mapped out of the Senate during the 1991 GOP remap. I ran into him in Key West at the end of a week’s vacation back in 2002 and enjoyed myself so much I extended my vacation for another week. He was a delight to hang out with and was full of great stories. I will cherish that time for the rest of my life, but I wish I had taken notes. I’ve known Jerry’s daughter Lori for decades. She was an indispensable high-level Senate Democratic staffer who left the business to raise a fine family with former Speaker Madigan Issues Staff Director Tom Cullen.
* The Kankakee Daily Journal’s obit is top notch…
Jerry Joyce, a 17-year Illinois state senator and a champion for agriculture and outdoor issues throughout the state, died June 19. He was 80.
In addition to his Springfield tenure, Joyce, from Essex in western Kankakee County, served on the Kankakee County Board.
A farmer and a Democrat, Joyce scored a major election upset in November 1974 when he defeated Sen. Ed McBroom, a Kankakee resident and Republican political heavyweight, to represent the Illinois 43rd Senate district, which included the counties of Kankakee, Iroquois, Grundy, Ford, as well as the southwestern portion of Will County. […]
Robert Themer, a retired longtime Daily Journal editor and reporter, called Joyce the greatest elected official he had ever covered.
“There is no one that I’ve covered that I’ve admired as much as Jerry Joyce. He was a tremendous advocate for this region,” he said.
Themer noted the advocacy Joyce had for the Kankakee River, the Kankakee River State Park and outdoor facilities in general.
Go read the whole thing.
Illinois Auditor General FRANK MAUTINO, a Democrat from Spring Valley, fondly remembered Joyce as a “decent, kind human being.” Mautino came to the House in 1991, when he was appointed to replace his father, Rep. DICK MAUTINO, who died of a heart attack at age 53.
“He took his time with a young, downstate member coming in — I was 28 at the time — to help me,” Mautino told me. “He was always very, very willing to help, and to show, not only me, but other young members, how to get bills passed and get things done.”
The fact that Joyce, like Mautino, represented an agricultural area, plus Joyce’s friendship with Mautino’s father, helped them bond, the auditor general said.
“He was gregarious, kind of bigger than life,” Mautino said. “You knew when Jerry was in the room.”
A memorial visitation will be at the R.W. Patterson Funeral Home & Crematory from 2 to 5 p.m. July 2. A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Inurnment will be private. … In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts in his name may be directed to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.