Taxes hiked, Democrats blamed, but how much will Republicans be boosted in 2018?

By Olivia Olsen | Jul 26, 2017

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois General Assembly recently ended a two-year budget stalemate by overriding Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a proposed spending plan that included a 32 percent income tax increase.  But just how much the tax increase will persuade Illinois voters to toss out of office the primarily Democratic lawmakers who promoted and voted for the tax hike remains an open question. 

Dick W. Simpson, director of undergraduate studies in political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said he doubted the potential political fallout of the tax hike would be enough for Republicans to win a majority in the 2018 elections, or even cut very far into the Democratic majorities in the state House and Senate.

Key Democratic legislators like state House Speaker Mike Madigan are not likely to face a strong enough challenge to dethrone them, Simpson said.

“Mike Madigan can’t be defeated in his home district no matter how many negative ads the Republicans run,” Simpson said. “They may be able to pick up a couple of seats in the House or Senate, but they can’t win a majority in either house because of gerrymandered districts.”

The unlikelihood of success will not dissuade the GOP from attacking the tax increase, Simpson said. 

“Even though some Republican legislators voted for the tax increase, they will pin the blame for the new higher taxes on the Democrats and attack those Democrats who voted for it, which is most of them.” Simpson said. “They will also portray them as supporting corruption because they didn’t support Rauner’s ‘turn around agenda.’ They will say (Democrats) are pro-union, anti-economic growth, taxers in their ads.” 

Though the tax-slashing campaign rhetoric will likely appeal to the Republican base, it likely will not convince Democratic voters to jump ship in 2018.  

“They (Republicans) have no hope of winning many of the seats, and so they usually concentrate their money and best candidates in the dozen or so swing districts,” Simpson said. 

Simpson said there could be a hard push in suburban Chicagoland in the run up to the 2018 election, with “tens of millions of dollars” in ads. 

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