State House: GOP incumbent Durkin vs. Lemont Tea Party-backed Reigle; no Dem challenger
Updated: February 27, 2012 9:47AM
In the Illinois 82nd House District race, incumbent state Rep. Jim Durkin, assistant minority leader and established GOP legislator, will face off on March 20 against Lemont Tea Party pick and former Democratic committeewoman Laura Reigle. The district encompasses a swath of Chicago’s southwest suburbs, including Western Springs, Lemont, Darien, Burr Ridge, Willowbrook, Woodridge and Homer Glen.
No Democratic challenger has entered the race.
Reigle, who is backed by the Lemont Tea Party, faces an uphill battle to unseat Durkin, a well-regarded legislator who has served this dependably Republican district since 2006. He also represented the 44th district from 1995 to 2002, and lost a 2002 bid to unseat U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill). In 2010, Durkin was elected to a two-year term after defeating Democratic challenger Matthew Mostowik. Durkin was the ranking Republican on the impeachment panel of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and was particularly outspoken in his criticism of both Blagojevich and then-Senator Roland Burris.
Reigle lost in a 2011 10-way race for one of four seats on the Lemont-Bromberek School District 113A Board.
Other than her unsuccessful bid for the school board, Reigle’s most public role has been as a co-plaintiff in a protracted legal standoff with officials in her local school district. In August 2011, just months after their initial lawsuit was dismissed, Reigle and others re-filed their suit, which alleges fraud by current and former D113A officials, and misuse of funds in excess of $12 million.
Reigle chose not to return the candidate questionnaire, but according to her campaign website, she believes in transparency in government, term limits, the right to life, the right to carry concealed weapons and strict laws against illegal immigration. The website characterizes her as a “real Republican,” and labels Durkin a “RINO,” (Republican in Name Only).
When Reigle announced her candidacy, Lemont Tea Party member Bill Montgomery was quoted saying this about Reigle in the Lemont Reporter: “She is incredibly knowledgeable, knows how to dig facts and information and make people aware of what the problems are and looks for solutions. She has some very strong strengths.”
Considered a fiscal conservative and a social moderate, Durkin is a member the John Marshall Law School Board of Trustees and the Chicago Bar Association Board of Managers, and sits on the board of advisers for the Giant Steps Autism School and Misericordia. He favors lower taxes, a reduction in state spending and reforms of Medicaid and pensions, including Senate Bill 512, which would reduce pension benefits for current employees going forward. He supports an accelerated reduction of Illinois corporate income tax rates, implementation of tax credits and deductions for businesses, and increasing the estate tax exemption to $5 million. Durkin opposes expanded gambling and gay marriage.
Durkin has been taken to task by some conservatives for his willingness to work across the aisle. Critics include online commentator Doug Ibendahl of Republican News Watch, who has lambasted Durkin for his votes against allowing Illinois residents to carry concealed weapons, and in favor of removing trans fats from food served in restaurants and movie theaters.
The Lemont Tea Party withdrew its support from Durkin last year, citing his “poor voting record.”