Hammond, Frese, Tracy welcome likely GOP gains in General Assembly

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 8, 2016 12:01 am Updated: Nov. 8, 2016 11:40 pm

QUINCY -- Three Republicans from Western-Central Illinois who won seats in the Legislature also were celebrating as their party picked up three seats in the General Assembly.

State Rep. Randy Frese, R-Paloma, and state Rep. Norine Hammond, R-Macomb, weathered challenges from Democratic opponents Tuesday. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, won an uncontested race for the Illinois Senate. All three are looking forward to having more Republicans in the Legislature to counter large Democratic majorities.

Hammond survived a well-financed challenge from Democratic nominee John Curtis of Macomb. Curtis had spent the past 18 months going door to door in the sprawling 93rd District. Both sides launched extensive advertising campaigns in the past few weeks.

"All eight counties came out in support of me and what I've done for the last six years. It will be my aim to continue that work," Hammond said.

Early vote totals showed Republicans picking up three seats in the Illinois House to end the veto-proof majority held by Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan.

"Certainly my hope is that will instill a spirit of negotiation with the speaker. The rank-and-file members in the House usually can work together," Hammond said.

Hammond was appointed to the seat in December 2010, after Rep. Rich Myers, R-Colchester, died shortly after winning re-election. She had been Myers' legislative aide for 14 years.

Frese won re-election with a token challenge from Bobby Pritchett, D-Roseville. Frese said the low number of Republicans in the Illinois General Assembly created a one-party dynamic during his first term in the House. In 2015, the majority Democrats did not pass a budget after a single Democratic holdout state Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago voted against the plan along with Republicans. Dunkin was defeated in the primary and won't be back in the House next year. This year the Legislature only approved a half-year budget that will expire in a few weeks.

"Just within the last week or so they said (Republicans) might be able to pick up three House seats," Frese said. "For the first time in many elections we were not going to be outspent. That helped us stay competitive."

Gov. Bruce Rauner invested more than $30 million of his own money to help Republicans in key races across the state. Tuesday's results show that money likely helped.

Republican state Rep. Michael McAuliffe was re-elected in Chicago to remain the only GOP legislator from the city. Democrats, meanwhile, have lost three of their members -- state Reps. Kate Cloonen, John Bradley and Mike Smiddy.

Tracy, a Republican from Quincy, won an uncontested 47th District Illinois Senate race after state Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, chose not to run for re-election.

"I'm looking forward to getting involved in the Senate," Tracy said. "I'll go over next week, which will be the first week of the veto session. We'll get a much better feel for how things are shaping up by then."

Tracy's election represents a Republican gain, but other Senate results were still unknown late Tuesday.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno is pleased to have Tracy coming to the upper chamber. Tracy starts with a solid working knowledge of the Legislature after serving nearly nine years in the Illinois House after she was appointed to replace state Rep. Art Tenhouse, R-Liberty, in mid-2006. She did not seek re-election to the House in 2014, when she ran in an unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor, teamed with Sen. Kirk Dillard.

For more election results, updates and reaction: whig.com/elections.