“It’s the 8th”
With those three words from sources in Illinois, HUMAN EVENTS just learned what freshman Republican Rep. Joe Walsh would announce later this evening (December 8) before an overflow crowd in Chicago: Namely, that he would seek re-election in the new and open 8th District rather than oppose fellow GOP freshman Randy Hultgren in the new 14th District (which is where both of their homes are, under the Democrat-sculpted map of the Prairie State’s 19 U.S. House districts.
So the most oft-discussed and pondered political question in Illinois was solved, with swashbuckling conservative Walsh to make his announcement at the Cubby Bear Restaurant before the Chicago Tea Party.
The first candidate in 2010 with “tea party” backing to win a contested primary over the GOP establishment, Walsh inarguably chose the better part of valor. With one third of his former 8th District and one third of Hultgren’s former turf in the new 14th, a primary between two conservative freshmen would have been incendiary—although the winner would have had a securely Republican district.
Walsh, however, opted for the new 8th, which includes about a third of his old district but in which Democrats have a voter registration advantage. Party leaders are expected to encourage announced candidate, DuPage County Superintendent of Education Darlene Ruscitti, to defer in favor of Walsh, who has increasingly become the face of the tea party in Congress through interviews on Cable TV and his now celebrated confrontation with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Walsh has even become something of an international voice for the U.S. tea party movement through interviews with such outlets as France24 TV, Liberacion and Le Figaro magazines, and Croatian and Slovenian television.
Walsh is expected to face a strong race next fall against liberal Democrat Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran and former assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs, who lost a close ’06 race in the old 6th District to Republican Peter Roskam.
As HUMAN EVENTS pointed out earlier, all of this will be irrelevant if a three-judge federal panel strikes down the redistricting plan and orders the redrawing of new lines for Illinois’ 18 U.S. House districts. Already, the panel has extended the filing deadline from Dec. 5 to Dec. 23-27—a sign that it may rule this month in favor of scrapping the plan.