Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gop Seeks to Regain House but Democrats Think They Can Hang on to Majority

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gop Seeks to Regain House but Democrats Think They Can Hang on to Majority

Article excerpt

Now that the primaries are over, Republicans are seeking to wrest control of the Illinois House from Democrats in November's general election.

As the 1994 legislative session got under way last week, officials agree that everything done must be viewed in the context of its electoral implications.

Officials expect the session to start slowly, if only because many lawmakers need a breather from the campaign.

Democrats enter the session optimistic that they can hang on to their majority in the legislature's lower chamber, which they've controlled for the past 12 years. Democrats outnumber Republicans 67-51 in the House.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has said that although he expects a tough fight this fall, Democrats will probably be able to retain their majority.

Steve Brown, Madigan's press spokesman, said again last week that chances were "excellent" for the Democrats to retain control.

State Rep. Kurt Granberg, D-Carlisle, who is Madigan's legislative floor leader, said Democrats had plenty of resources to withstand a Republican assault this fall.

But House Minority Leader Lee Daniels, R-Elmhurst, expressed confidence that 1994 could be the Republicans' magic year. He stopped short of predicting a GOP takeover of the House, but he said Republicans had a "large, large opportunity" to do so this fall.

Two years ago, Republicans took control of the Illinois Senate, after the party won the right to redraw legislative district maps in the wake of the 1990 U.S. Census.

Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats are expected to have a number of hard-fought elections this fall, but the GOP is believed strong enough to hang onto its 32-27 lead in the Senate.

That's why attention is shifting to the House.

In the 1990s, Madigan has won wide praise for his ability to maintain Democratic control in the House.

Daniels, who has been criticized in the past for not doing better in campaigns, acknowledged that Republicans had a hard time unseating Democratic incumbents.

He attributed the difficulty to the pre-1992 legislative maps, which Democrats drew, and the large majority Democrats had built up over the past decade. But this year though, could be different, he said.

"They (the Democrats) will say, `Oh, (Republicans) say that every year,' " said Daniels. …

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