TBT: Tuesday’s place in history

This week Illinoisans chose statewide officials, members of Congress and the members of the 101st General Assembly. Here are a few facts which reflect Tuesday’s place in Illinois history.

Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker will be the 43rd chief executive of the state of Illinois. He will be the 21st Democrat to become Governor in Illinois’ history, and the first since Governor Pat Quinn was picked in 2010. Pritzker’s victory marks the first time that a challenger has defeated an incumbent in two consecutive general elections since 1968-1972 when Richard Ogilvie defeated incumbent Samuel Shapiro, only to fall four years later to Dan Walker (Walker would lose four years after that, but in a primary).

Democrats Juliana Stratton (Lieutenant Governor), Jesse White (Secretary of State), Kwame Raoul (Attorney General), Michael Frerichs (Treasurer) and Susana Mendoza (Comptroller) will also take the oath of office on January 14. This is the first time Democrats have been sworn in to all six statewide offices since 2007. Republicans last held all six in 1995.

While a number of former members of the Illinois House have won statewide office in recent years (such as Dan Rutherford who served in the Senate between his time in the House and his election as State Treasurer in 2010), Lieutenant Governor-elect Stratton; who currently represents the 5th Representative District in the House; will become the first sitting state representative to move directly to a statewide office since Representative Corinne Wood became Lieutenant Governor in 1999.

Attorney General-elect Raoul follows a much more well-trod path from the Illinois Senate to statewide office, following in the footsteps of state senators Lisa Madigan, Rutherford, Frerichs and Judy Baar Topinka, who have moved directly from the Illinois Senate to statewide office in recent years. Two other state senators, Barack Obama (2004) and Peter Fitzgerald (1998) have also recently moved directly from the Illinois senate to the U.S. Senate.

When Governor Pritzker takes office on January 14, he will have Democrat majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Democrats have held the majority in both chambers since 2003 and in the House since 1997. The last time Republicans held the governorship and both legislative chambers was in 1995-96 during the term of Governor Jim Edgar.

Democrats have held the House majority since 1997. In the nine General Assemblies which have served thus far in this century, their numbers have fallen as low as 62 in the 92nd General Assembly (2001-02) and risen as high as 71 in the 98th (2013-14) and 99th General Assemblies (2015-16). Since taking the majority in the Senate in 2003, Senate Democrats have ranged from 31 seats in the 94th General Assembly (2005-06) to 40 in the 98th General Assembly.

Congratulations and best of luck to all those who were successful on Tuesday.