My friend Dan Sugrue, a bright young(er) attorney from Green Oaks, is back again for the 2010 election cycle against entrenched Democratic politician Kathy Ryg for the battle for the 59th legislative district, having unsuccessfully challenged her in 2008.
Sugrue ran a spirited campaign with not a lot of resources against Ryg last cycle. Sugrue was appointed as the GOP nominee (along with Keith Gray in the 30th Senate District, which includes the 59th legislative district) and was challenged by the Link political machine (the complainant in the case being Kathy Ryg's mom, former Wheeling mayor Sheila Schultz). Sugrue easily survived the challenge and went on to run a clean campaign focusing on Ryg's subservience to the Springfield/Chicago political godfathers, to the detriment of Ryg's representation of her home district.
Sugrue's status as a political newcomer, the 2008 Obama wave, and the lack of the electorate's understanding of what kind of mess Springfield was really in (the state budget crisis and Blago's indictment had yet to really hit the fan), all contributed to a decisive loss against Ryg. Ryg had a few terms under her belt, and had a deserved reputation for good constituent services and attention to the district, at least facially.
The tables may be somewhat turned this time around, however, as Sugrue has more name recognition and a political base, knows the district better, and the electorate is keenly attuned to the Blagojevich/Springfield disaster of our current state government, controlled completely by the Democratic Party.
Sugure summed up the dynamics of the race pretty well to the Daily Herald:
"You can't expect the same people who were there during the mess to be the ones to get you out of the mess," he said of the General Assembly before and after the indictment and impeachment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. [snip]
He stresses continuing ineffectiveness in a Democrat-controlled Springfield. Sugrue said "very little" has changed since Pat Quinn assumed the governor's post and the Chicago machine rules Springfield.
"She's a nice lady (but) I think she's too nice to stand up to the Chicago machine down there," he said of Ryg. "She more closely represents the agenda of the Chicago machine than she represents the people of the 59th District."
Kathy Ryg IS a nice lady on a personal level (she won't hesitate to castrate you politically, but she'll smile while she's doing it), and I've even had coffee with her to chat about local politics (off the record, of course, so I can't tell you what she thinks about some of her fellow local Dems, but it's fascinating).
In addition, to be honest, the resources of the local GOP party were also attuned more to other races, especially Keith Gray's battle against State Senator Terry Link. I would look for a lot more attention and resources being poured into the Ryg contest by the local party this time around, especially tying Ryg into her unquestioning allegiance to Blago, Madigan and Link (yuck, what a trio!)
With the tide of the state and the nation perhaps turning away from Democrats, as the troubles of Springfield are now really sinking in, and even President Obama's rising star starting to fall, local pols like Sugrue are well-positioned to take back some blue territory from the local Dems in 2010.