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David Giuliani: My prediction was wrong

November 11, 2018

My crystal ball was out of order Tuesday.

I privately predicted the local state representative race between Democrat Lisa Dugan and Republican Lindsay Parkhurst would be close, with Dugan as the likely winner.

Boy, I was wrong. Good thing I don’t place bets.

Parkhurst, who took office in 2017 and is now completing her first term, cruised to victory in the 79th House District in Tuesday’s election, grabbing 56 percent of the vote.

Why did I think Dugan was going to win? 2018 was seen as a Democratic year, and I figured that would tip the balance to Dugan in a battleground district.

Besides, Dugan, who served as state representative from 2003 to 2013, won five previous races. In 2010, she received 52 percent in a heavily Republican year, was unopposed in 2008 and took two-thirds of the vote in 2006.

As it turned out, Dugan may have been the victim of a Republican wave in downstate Illinois. In Kankakee County, which makes up the bulk of the district, statewide and countywide GOP candidates prevailed, the usual exception, of course, being the universally popular Secretary of State Jesse White.

Parkhurst benefited from a good Republican year in 2016. She got about 54 percent of Kankakee County’s vote, roughly what Donald Trump received.

Like last time, the local state representative race was decidedly negative, with both sides throwing below-the-belt punches. It was nice to hear from Parkhurst that Dugan made a “very gracious” concession call.

My prediction: The 79th District will be considered solid GOP territory in 2020, so the Democrats will not seriously contest it.

But I’m not going to bet on that. I’m not much of a prognosticator.

LITTLE WORRY

Running in gerrymandered districts, many congressmen exert little effort to win the hearts and minds of their constituents. They don’t have to; barring a major scandal, they’re virtually guaranteed re-election.

Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, represents the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Kankakee County. The district was designed for a Democrat. In Tuesday’s election, Kelly pounded Bourbonnais photographer David Merkle with more than 80 percent of the vote.

The 16th Congressional District, which includes Iroquois County, is represented by Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon. In 2011, state Democrats re-drew congressional districts to pack as many Republicans as they could in the 16th, allowing other districts to go Democratic.

On Tuesday, Kinzinger beat his Democratic opponent, Sara Dady, of Rockford, with nearly 60 percent of the vote, even though Dady mounted a serious effort (though without national Democratic money).

If a Democrat cannot beat Kinzinger in a banner Democratic year, he is practically guaranteed re-election from here on.

Kinzinger seems to operate with the confidence that he has a lock on his district. He has kept his distance from constituents, failing in recent years to hold the traditional town halls that he promised when he first ran in 2010.

While he does plenty of TV interviews in Washington, he declined to do an interview on video with the editorial board for Ottawa Times. He was the only candidate to do so, the newspaper said.

Not surprisingly, Kinzinger and Kelly do not generally hold in-person, traditional town halls with the public. Their visits to the district are in controlled settings such as schools.

Assured of re-election, the two congressmen have little to worry about.

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