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Evans’ Exit

After 24 years in Congress and 10 years of battling Parkinson’s disease, Rep. Lane Evans (D.-Ill.) stunned the Prairie State last week when he announced that he would not seek re-election this fall. Citing the need to address "the concerns of my health," the 54-year-old Evans made his exit one week after winning renomination in the 17th District (Rock Island-Moline).

In 1982, when conservative State Sen. Ken McMillan defeated veteran liberal Rep. (1966-82) Tom Railsback for renomination, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Legal Services lawyer Evans came out of nowhere to win the historically Republican district — in all likelihood because the GOP was fractured by the primary. Rising to become the ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, Evans has, more often than not, been re-elected with ease. His sudden departure, however, radically changes the political picture in a district John Kerry carried with 51% of the vote last year.

Under state election law, a committee of district Democratic leaders will select Evans’ replacement on the ballot. The name most often mentioned is that of State Sen. Mike Jacobs of Moline. A former staffer to Secretary of State Jesse White, the 45-year-old Jacobs is considered cut from the same liberal cloth as Evans (lifetime ACU rating: 5%). But there are other ambitious Democrats likely to maneuver for the nomination, among them Evans’ longtime district director Phil Hare, Rock Island Mayor Mark Schweibert, and attorney Clarence Darrow, grandson-namesake of the legendary lawyer.

The Republican nominee is Andrea Lane Zinga, former Quad Cities TV anchorwoman. Two years ago, Zenga drew 39% of the vote against Evans in a campaign in which the incumbent’s illness was freely discussed. Now, with the seat suddenly open and Democrats likely to fall over themselves to secure nomination, her chances of an upset have improved.

Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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