Saturday, October 08, 2005

Divided Districts, Part 2

    Many southern Illinois legislative districts are "divided"-in that not all of the three members-two representatives and one senator-are of the same party. To what is the inherently ambiguous geopolitcal character attributable? Are the incumbents secure, or is the present representation a transient state on the way to single party domination? What keeps the legislators winning re-election? In the coming days, we will look at a few of them.
   The 49th, which stretches from Carlinville and Litchfield north to Jacksonville, skirting Springfield, is another "divided district," represented by Deanna Demuzio, Jim Watson, and Garry Hannig.
   Senator:Deanna Demuzio
   Provenance: Carlinville
   Previous occupation: staffer to several legislators, including then sen. Charlie Chew(D-Chicago)
   Claim to fame: Succeeded her husband, downstate titan Vince Demuzio, upon his death. Demuzio had been majority leader.
   Representative, 97th district: Jim Watson
   Provenance: Jacksonville
   Previous occupation: Teacher, businessman 
   Claim to fame: First Gulf War veteran to be elected to the Illinois House of Reps
   Representative, 98th district: Gary Hannig
   Provenance: Litchfield
   Previous occupation: Accountant
   Claim to fame: Hannig is the de facto Majority Leader, in the absence of any true "leadership" on the part of Barbara Flynn Currie, by virtue of inattention or poor health.
   The 49th is, effectively, a new district. Jacksonville had previously been represented by Republican Ed Madigan, and Carlinville, DeMuzio. Watson has the seat vacated by Tom Ryder, former GOP legislator from Springfield. Vince DeMuzio's death sent shockwaves across the region and spurred to action the Republican party, hoping to reclaim his seat. However, Mrs. DeMuzio sailed to victory unopposed, as did Watson and Hannig.
   Hannig, first elected in 1978, is arguably the most powerful downstate House Dem-it is only fitting that he once shared a district with his senatorial counterpart. In the event that Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie would resign or retire, Hannig would be in a posistion to succeed her as majority leader. A trusted ally of the Speaker, Hannig is often found presiding in the House chamber. Low key and unassuming, he inspires neither the reverence nor the fear that Speaker Mike does. If Hannig serves long enough, who knows? He may one day be Speaker.


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