I woke up to get my Daily Herald this morning and was greeted by a nice, above-the fold banner headline proclaiming: "GOP challenger leads cash dash." Nice. It's a pretty good article about the fundraising efforts of political newcomer and Green Oaks attorney Dan Sugrue, who is running against incumbent Dem Kathy Ryg in the 59th legislative district, which is a dagger-shaped district that runs from Waukegan in the north, all the way south through Park City, Green Oaks, Mettawa, Lincolnshire, Buffalo Grove and the northern tip of Wheeling, and even captures 3 or so precincts in Lake Forest. It's the western half of the 30th senate district, currently held by incumbent Terry Link. More on him and his nomination petitions later this week, perhaps.
Kathy Ryg is an interesting legislator. She gets high praise in the 59th District for great constituent services, but generally votes in lockstep with the Democratic party down in Springfield. She originally ran against Vernon Hills mayor Roger Byrne, winning by only 107 votes, as I recall. She was then challenged by Riverwoods patent attorney Paul Tully, whom she defeated by a comfortable margin. She was not challenged in 2006. Part of the strategy on the part of the GOP not to run anyone against her was the notion that if she did not have an opponent, she'd stay home and not campaign hard on behalf of her fellow Dems. I guess we should have known better, as not only were "Link/Ryg" signs evident in the district in the last election, she wound up on my doorstep (you can imagine my surprise, given the Mark Kirk bumpersticker prominently dsplayed on the bumper of my car, which was in the driveway at the time). We had a nice chat, though, and I have to say I like Kathy Ryg as a person, and she is darn good at returning phone calls, which not many state reps or senators can say.
But, the question in this race will be whether Ryg can survive being painted with the broad brush of the woefully ineffective Dem party in Springfield, which, if you've bothered to look up from Obama-mania lately, is doing a great job of imploding (even without GOP assistance). The Governor's approval rating is lower than President Bush's. The budget sent to the Governor by the General Assembly was unbalanced and he has slashed programs left and right, including things like community outreach and rehab for drug addicts and even state agencies like the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (so much for Dems being for the environment). School funding reform is being pushed loudly by state senator/Reverend Meeks, who was threatening to send Chicago students to enroll in New Trier to protest the inequities of public school financing based primarily on local property taxes. The Governor has called the GA back to Springfield to deal with the issue, which costs taxpayers money, even though no one really expects anything to get done.
Will Kathy Ryg support proposals like taking most of our property taxes and shipping them to the Chicago Public School System (via a short layover in Springfield), just like she supported the RTA transit tax increase, which gave Lake County back only a percentage of the money added to the county sales tax? Will she continue to march behind State Senator Terry Link as the fallout from his fraudent nomination petitions begins to cripple him in the fall election against GOP challenger Keith Gray?
Look up from the presidential race every once in a while folks, there's a lot going on locally that you don't want to miss...