Hyde's Open Seat Brings Open Season
An open seat Congressional race is like catnip for people in politics -- and they don't come often. Only days after Congressman Henry Hyde's announcement that he will not run for reelection in 2006, one Democrat is in the race for sure, and two Republicans have officially announced their intended candidacies for the Sixth Congressional District.
Of the two Republicans, State Sen. Peter Roskam of Glen Ellyn seems to be the front runner. A former staffer for Hyde, Roskam has been quietly laying the groundwork among party leaders in DuPage and around the state. This morning on Chicago Public Radio, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna told a reporter that Roskam was a "strong candidate" and seemed to have the necessary support to win the 2006 primary. His possible primary opponents former DuPage County Recorder Rick Carney of Wheaton, and State Sen. Carole Pankau of Roselle lack Roskam's buzz, and seem to have a longer road to victory.
The seat, which comprises of most of DuPage County, has long been considered a safe Republican district. But the county's voting patterns have gradually shifted leftward over recent years, and in 2004 Hyde's Democratic challenger (and expected 2006 candidate) Christine Cegelis managed to garner 44% of the vote, a very strong showing for the district. Many Democratic supporters point out that current 8th District Democratic Congresswoman Melissa Bean won less -- 42% -- in her first outing against Republican Phil Crane in 2002.