The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Congressional A-Go-Go: Lakefront Rumbles

By vouchey in News on Jun 22, 2005 8:48PM

kirk.jpgTenth Congressional District Representative Mark Kirk is the kind of centrist legislator that, with one or two minor opinion changes, could move from Republican to Democrat - or vice versa - pretty easily. In 2001 the League of Conservation Voters rated him a 71 out of 100, and the National Taxpayers Union rated him a 59 out of 100. Pretty close to the middle, as votes go. He's a Naval Reserve Commander, and yet gained the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign against an openly gay opponent in 2002. In 2004 he won with 64% of the vote. Kirk, it seems, is unbeatable.

Today, in our third, and final installment on potentially big suburban congressional races, we address the 10th Congressional District, which covers the North Lakeshore suburbs in Lake County. On Monday we covered DuPage County's open seat, and yesterday we discussed the gaggle of Republicans lining up to knock Rep. Melissa Bean from her new seat in the northwest suburbs.

Despite Kirk's seeming invincibility, every cycle there's talk of what Democrat will take on Kirk, who first won his seat by a mere 2% margin in 2000. The North Lakeshore has no deficit of wealthy people looking for a challenge, so with the right candidate, goes Democratic thinking, Kirk could be taken down in a tight election.

The 2006 election has proven no exception to that rule, as a gaggle of possible candidates have tossed their names into the arena, including a Lake County Board Member Angelo Kyle, Ex-Clinton aide Jay Footlik, school teacher Barry Bradford, class action lawyer Clint Krislov and Winnetka Park Board member Zane Smith. Until Monday, excitement was gathering for popular State Senator Susan Garrett, who announced via press release that she was no planning to run.

Now that Garrett's out of the running, none of the remaining candidates have broad appeal across the county, and are untested in a major race. Brokering the decision on who will be the final candidate is Kirk's first opponent, 10th District State Central Committeewoman Lauren Beth Gash. Rather than lick her wounds after her disappointing loss, she has turned her considerable energy to building a real Democratic organization in the 10th Congressional District, such as hiring full-time staff to get downballot positions like township supervisor elected in 2004. And it's slowly working.

Gash, who is a member of Rep. Melissa Bean's kitchen cabinet, and played a considerable role in both her 2002 and 2004 races, is probably looking for a candidate who will run twice, 2006 and 2008. Like with Bean vs. Crane, it will probably take more than one try to knock Mark Kirk out of his considerably solid position.