In the article about President Barack Obama’s declining, but still good poll numbers in Illinois, there were two elements of weakness–the collar counties, about which I wrote, and Downstate.
Let’s look at those numbers again:
- Collar Counties -45-53% unfavorable
- Downstate – 54-44% unfavorable
You may remember that Pat Quinn only carried three counties:
- St. Clair across from St. Louis
- Alexander County about as far south in Illinois as one can go
Today Congressman Jerry Costello decided to retire rather than face the voters in an election in an area in which Obama is not expected to do well.
While St. Clair and Alexander Counties are in Costello’s area, they apparently don’t provide enough expected margin to attract a ballot bid from the man who won a special election in the summer of 1988.
When I was running for State Comptroller on the Republican ticket in 1982, I noticed that the Metro East area was looking more and more like Chicago’s suburbia. Fairview Heights had the big shopping center up on the hill over the Mississippi River.
It didn’t look quite like our suburbs, but the new housing developments popping up foretell a switch to residents who would not be dictated to by old (or new) line Democratic Party bosses, one of whom Costello was as St. Clair County Board Chairman.
When I campaigned in the area again twenty years later (for Governor as a Libertarian), it looked as if suburbanization was well on its way to dominating the area.
I had been down a couple of times during the 1990’s on the way to my sister’s home in Jopoin.
Once, State Rep.Wyvetter Younge (D-East St. Louis) drove me around her hometown, where Senator Dick Durbin was born.
It looked as if it had been bombed. Bricks were everywhere.
The next time I went down was for a legislative hearing on the abuses of “rent to own” house. As soon as prospective homeowners would get close to ownership, the deed holder would come in and fix something and tack the price onto the outstanding balance. Those testifying contended that the owners were trying to accumulate large enough parcels, especially near the casino and light rail to St. Louis, for future development purposes with, of course, no regard to the tenants of the small houses.
At her request, I went through the area one more time to tour Park College in Cahokia. It had a pleasant campus, with an airport, but no students.
By then, the bricks from collapsing building walls had disappeared. I guessed there must be a market for old bricks.
Now, the Democratic Party base in that southwestern part of Illinois is not as decimated as the houses in East St. Louis, but it must be crumbling if Costello is hanging up his congressional hat.
The taxpayers have dumped tons of money for infrastructure in the area in an attempt to re-vitalize it.
Every year the Mid-America Airport people would some in and tell the Appropriations Committee on which I sat that in just a couple of more years they would have it up and running.
But Missouri residents were unwilling to cross the river, even if Mid-America was more convenient than their own Lambert. Undoubtedly, the high crime rate near the riverbank was a deterrent, but that doesn’t stop I-55 traffic, so maybe it’s something else.
The Illinois Department of Transportation built a ring road around our side of the St. Louis area.
That spurred lots of growth. Cahokia, in which I remember no shopping area during 1982 and a side trip to the Mounds in the 1990’s, has a growth-attracting Walmart.
So, many the percentage of tax-dependents has decreased or the Republican Party’s growth, led by Republican pharmacist-legislators Frank Watson and Ron Stephens, has reached congressional critical mass.
This is the part of the state from which the 2010 candidate for Lt. Governor came. Jason Plummer was in his late-20’s, so undoubtedly will be up for another race.
The former mayor of Belleville, Roger Cook, announced his candidacy for the office before Costello announced his retirement.
So, while the reapportionment map seems to be resulting in carnage in Chicago’s suburbs, it may result in the wiping out one Democrat in a traditionally one-party area of Downstate.
In other polling news, former State Rep. Jay Hoffman released an internal poll which showed him running neck and neck (1 percentage point ahead of) Republican Congressman Tim Johnson.