Walsh looks to beat odds in 8th
U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh announces re-election campaign plans at a Chicago Tea Party meeting Thursday evening at the Cubby Bear Sports Bar. | Scott Stewart~Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: January 16, 2012 8:10AM
Should he, in a year’s time, prove victorious over both a conga line of lesser-known Republican challengers and a big-name Democrat, Joe Walsh will continue to represent the southwestern corner of Buffalo Grove.
But that corner will be at the end of an odd-shaped arm stretching to the northeast from a new district in territory far more urban than Walsh’s current whereabouts.
Walsh, a Republican congressman living in McHenry and representing rural northern Illinois in the soon-to-be-moved 8th District, announced last week that he will run for re-election in a district that will soon cover portions of Cook and DuPage counties. Rather than blow a fortune on a primary battle with an entrenched partymate, Walsh said he would move into new territory — a district drawn to elect a Democrat.
“If I’m wrong, I’m wrong,” he said, “but boy, I don’t think I’m wrong.”
Walsh addressed the Cook County Tea Party at their monthly meeting, Dec. 8, at The Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville, unveiling his intention to stay in the 8th District, even though the coming map of congressional districts moves that number from a rural area to a suburban region. He will have to change residences, as his current home stands in what will become the 14th District, and would put him in a fight with fellow Republican Congressman Randy Hultgren.
All of Illinois’ districts will receive new borders for the 2012 election season. The 2010 U.S. Census caused the state to shrink from 19 congressmen to 18, forcing the creation of a new map of boundaries. The Democrats control every level of state government, empowering them to draw a layout that in some cases grouped Republican incumbents together, which forces them to either eliminate each other in primaries or, as Walsh chose, relocate to unfamiliar territory.
The new 14th will engulf much of what is currently the 8th, including the far western edges of Long Grove and Buffalo Grove. It will still contain Winfield, home of Hultgren. Had Walsh stood his ground, he would have tested his Tea Party style of conservative politics against Hultgren’s more moderate policies — and guaranteed the elimination of at least one Republican from Washington.
Instead, he will relocate to somewhere in the 8th, a territory that will soon hold Schaumburg, Elgin and Elk Grove Village, and cut an odd swath through Buffalo Grove. Once in effect, the 8th’s northern border will take in Buffalo Grove Village Hall, but leave out the police station. Whoever wins the 8th will represent a couple of classrooms in St. Mary School.
Upon its revelation in May, it was clear that the Democrats plotted the new 8th to be an easy victory for one of their own.
“I know they drew it to be a Democratic district,” Walsh said. “Phooey on that.”
His speech held no comments about Illinois-specific issues, other than condemning that state’s flair for producing corrupt politicians. He reiterated his promise to spend no more than six years as a representative.
In the March 20 primary, Walsh will face Darlene Ruscitti, the DuPage County superintendent of education, and businessmen Rich Evans and Andrew Palomo. Assuming victory there, his probable competition would be Tammy Duckworth, a veteran of the war on terror who lost a 2006 campaign for the 6th Congressional District but then spent time working in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Whoever that Democratic nominee is, he or she is on the wrong side of this fight,” Walsh said. “That fight is my fight. That fight is our fight.
“This run in the 8th will prove we’re right.”