Team America has confirmed that Lake County Board Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt is ready to dive into the race for the 31st senate district, which seat is currently held by State Senator Michael Bond. Bond recently announced his campaign to run for Illinois' 10th Congressional District, which seat is currently held by 5-term incumbent Mark Kirk (by the way, still no word on Kirk's decision as to run for U.S. Senate or stay at home in IL-10).
Schmidt will be a formidable candidate, with proven fundraising capability, great name recognition, few if any negatives, and a traditionally Republican-leaning district to run in. This will be a high profile race not only for the Lake County GOP (who are hungry to gain back ground lost to the Dems in recent years) but also the IL Senate Republicans (who are probably just as eager).
Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno is very enthusiastic about Schmidt's decision to run, and I would not be surprised to see a high level of support coming from the Senate Republicans, who will see this as a prime pick-up opportunity--even if Bond chickens out and decides to stay to run in the 31st district, depending on Mark Kirk's eventual decision.
Schmidt will also likely enjoy the support of the regular Lake County Republicans, and may well avoid a bruising primary battle, as the other top contender, Lake County GOP Chairman Dan Venturi, has pledged support for Schmidt and will not run against her.
Schmidt's Lake County Board seat is not up in 2010, having just won an uncontested bid for re-election, after her opponent was kicked off the ballot for nominating petition errors (which blame was attributed to mistakes by Lake County Dem Chairman and State Senator Terry Link).
Schmidt will reportedly announce her formation of an exploratory committee shortly as a prelude to a formal announcement of her candidacy. More details as they become available.
UPDATE 5/5/09 11:30 p.m.: Here is a copy of a brief press release from Suzi Schmidt's campaign team that was released Tuesday around 5:00 p.m.:
Lake County Board Chairman Suzi Schmidt to run for State Senate
LAKE VILLA (May 5, 2009) – The following statement was released today by Lake County Board Chairman Suzi Schmidt regarding her decision to run for State Senate in the 31st District.
“With much thought and consideration and after listening to people in Lake County who share my deep concern for the direction of our state, it is my intention to run for State Senate in the 31st District and bring much needed reform and accountability to our state government. As a public servant, I have brought honest, competent government to the community that I love and cherish. With our state at the brink of financial collapse, I can think of no greater opportunity to improve the quality of life for my neighbors and community than to bring the same honest, competent government service to Springfield. I am encouraged by the enthusiastic support I have received from friends and family throughout the district and look forward to hearing people’s ideas about how to build a better, stronger Illinois.”
A formal announcement will occur in the coming months.
About Suzi Schmidt: Suzi Schmidt, 57, is the Chairman of the Lake County Board. Her local government experience includes serving as a Lake Villa Trustee (1985-1988), Lake County Board Member (1988-Present), Lake County Forest Preserve Commissioner (1988-Present), and as Chairman of the Lake County Board since 2000. Active in the community, Schmidt is President of Metro Counties, serves on the Board of Governors of the Lake County University Center, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Lake County Municipal League. A 30-year resident of Lake Villa, Schmidt is a member of the Lindenhurst/Lake Villa Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Lake Villa Library, and Lake Villa Historical Society. Schmidt received her Bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She and her husband, Bob, have been married for 28 years.
UPDATE 5/6/09 12:50 p.m.: The Daily Herald has a story up; Michael Bond declined to comment. Hard to believe he'd turn down a chance at free press.