Our beleaguered state will have less clout in Washington with Donald Trump's election and continued Republican control of Congress. That’s no small matter when a spike in federal infrastructure spending and job creation is on the Trump agenda. Unfortunately, our part of Illinois is unlikely to be spared the effects of diminished influence. Allow me to explain.
First, there’s that electoral map. The president-elect probably has burned the image into his mind for easy reference — the one with the big blue blob in the middle of a sea of red, a stark reminder that Illinois voters denied him the Land of Lincoln’s 20 electoral votes.
Then there’s the fact that Illinois’ congressional delegation is about to become even more heavily weighted with out-of-power Democrats. It starts with our state about to be represented by two Democratic senators with Tammy Duckworth having drubbed Mark Kirk. It continues with another of Illinois’ 18 House seats about to be occupied by a Democrat. The score, come January: 11 Democrats and seven Republicans.
And there’s the GOP loyalty factor. Anybody think Trump will forget how U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, whose district extends south toward Gibson City, was one of the first and most vocal Republican congressmen to call out Trump as “a con artist” and “unfit to be commander-in-chief?” No invitation to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll for you, congressman.
How about Rep. Rodney Davis’ on-and-off support of Trump? He endorsed Trump, then un-endorsed him. He also visibly resigned from Trump’s agriculture advisory committee, which never met. Davis, who represents parts of McLean and 13 other counties stretching from Champaign-Urbana toward St. Louis, may need to protect his right flank from a possible challenger in a primary only 16 months from now. That’s because voters in all but one of his 14 counties supported Trump on Tuesday. And he didn’t.
Among this area’s congressmen, only Rep. Darin LaHood meekly embraced the GOP nominee, eager to prove his Republican bona fides.
I couldn’t help but notice how none of the 19 photos in his three mass mailers included an image of his father, Ray LaHood. Some Republicans consider the senior LaHood a traitor because he went from being a GOP congressman to being a member of President Obama’s Cabinet. Only one of the 19 counties in the younger LaHood’s 18th district didn’t line up behind Trump this week.
Finally, and importantly, we have Gov. Bruce Rauner, still another Republican who distanced himself from Trump. He may have to wait a long time for a Trump White House to return a phone call.
In the meantime, wish our president-elect well and pray for our state. And our country.
This area had already lost standing in Washington last year when Aaron Schock resigned from Congress and Illinois surrendered a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
Shock was indicted this week on federal charges that he defrauded the government and campaign committees and tried to cover it up. He says “our federal justice system is broken.” Just for the record, the U.S. attorney for Central Illinois last year had 346 convictions and zero acquittals.
With voter endorsement of the “Safe Roads” (aka “Lockbox”) amendment to the Illinois Constitution, don’t be surprised if there’s Springfield chatter about maybe increasing some fees and taxes. With assurances the revenue can’t be spent on anything but transportation, coupled with such decisive passage of the amendment, citizens might be viewed as willing to support a higher gas tax or license fee.
Hats off to Cardinals fans who genuinely cheered for the Cubs in the World Series. Maybe even to the St. Louis fan heard to say, “Way to go, Cubs. I hope you win it again — in 108 years.”