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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

IL-17: Lane Evans (D) Retires

Posted by DavidNYC

As some commenters in the previous thread noted, Democratic Rep. Lane Evans (IL-17) is retiring due to health reasons. He's been slowed by Parkinson's disease in recent years. This is a very serious neurological disease with several treatments but no known cures. I know everyone joins me in wishing Rep. Evans the very best in what are no doubt extremely difficult circumstances.

Of course, we can't ignore the political implications of Evans' departure. This is a definite swing district - it went just 51-48 for Kerry. However, Charlie Cook does give it a D+5 rating. Because Evans dropped out after the filing deadline, his replacement will be chosen by party officials. It remains to be seen if the proverbial smoke-filled back room can produce a candidate as strong as Evans, who ran 10 points ahead of Kerry last time out. One name under discussion, according to CQ, is state Sen. Mike Jacobs. If you know anything about him, let us know in comments.

One person we do know about is the GOP candidate, a woman named Andrea Zinga. She got crushed by Evans in 2004 and barely eked out a win in the primary this year. She's best known for her ghoulish remarks about Evans' health:

"He becomes less effective all the time, probably because of his declining health," Zinga told an individual recently at an event she attended in Dunfermline, a small village south of Canton. She said voters should be aware of his health status.

"The fact of Mr. Evans’ health is a fact and we stated it as a fact: He is not well," Zinga said Tuesday.

It's widely believed that Zinga's attempt to make Evans' health an issue backfired badly on her, and I don't doubt it. I'm sure her last campaign won't be forgotten - or forgiven. And at the very least, it suggests she's not a very wise politico. That said, CQ knocked this race down a notch, from Safe Dem to Lean Dem. No matter how weak our opponent, our task just got that much more difficult in IL-17.

Posted at 07:51 PM in 2006 Elections - House, Illinois | Technorati

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This is to bad Lane Evans is a good congressman i hope that the Dems. pick somebody that is just as progressive.

Posted by: D in FL. [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 28, 2006 08:54 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

From 2006 Almanac of American Politics IL-17 rated Cook D + 5:

2004 Presidential Vote
Kerry (D) 148,562 (51%)
Bush (R) 139,251 (48%)

2000 Presidential Vote
Gore (D) 146,548 (54%)
Bush (R) 119,563 (44%)

"In May 1998 Evans announced he had Parkinson's disease, which was diagnosed in 1995 after he found he could not wave with his left hand at a Labor Day rally in Galesburg. In 1998 he said he could not stand long without pain or smile easily, but could still jog and that he had lost weight under doctor's orders. In 2000 he spent much of his ad budget talking about his Parkinson's disease; one showed him jogging and saying, "If you hear someone say they're worried about Lane Evans, tell them you saw him running today and he's doing just fine." In 2002 little was heard of his illness. But in 2004 his Republican opponent, onetime Quad Cities TV anchor Andrea Zinga, raised it loudly. By this time Evans had trouble getting up from a chair and pouring a soft drink, and he had speech therapy once a week to prevent "lazy tongue," though he said he still went out running some mornings and regularly traveled throughout the district and traveled to Europe for the 2004 ceremonies commemorating D Day. But Zinga said he was not physically fit to serve. "People who are on the medications he is on may have trouble with judgment, which can be worsened by excitement or stress." Evans assured friendly audiences, "I may be slow, but I know which way to go." Evans was the first Downstate congressman to endorse Barack Obama in the 2004 Senate primary, and Obama recalled that after a campaign tour of the district with Evans, "For those concerned about Lane's health, don't worry. I couldn't keep up with him." Tom Schroeder, the executive director of the Rock Island County Council on Addictions, said, "The next time you hear some washed up TV news reader spouting mean-spirited and hurtful garbage about our congressman, tell her to go straight to some place really hot that rhymes with bell." Evans refused to debate Zinga until she apologized and said, "I'm a better congressman now that I have had this tragedy happen. I can understand what families are going through."

How did this issue play? Parkinson's disease produces physical infirmity but no mental impairment, and Evans's heavy schedule in the district suggested he was far from incapacitated. He was reelected 61%-39%, carrying every county but Adams, a heavily Republican county included in this district only because it was the essential land bridge between two swaths of Democratic territory. Speculation inevitably arises as to what would happen if Evans does not run again. Possible Democratic candidates include Phil Hare, his district director since 1982, Rock Island Mayor Mark Schweibert, state Senator John Sullivan and Clarence Darrow, grandson and namesake of the great lawyer, who served as a lawyer in the Marine Corps and moved to the area proclaiming an interest in politics."

Posted by: Predictor [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 29, 2006 12:51 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Well there's no gay marriage amendment and no Bush on the ballot this time so hopefully those extra 20,000 wingers that turned out in '04 will stay home this time. Especially if Lane goes out and campaigns hard for his replacement.

Posted by: nada [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 29, 2006 09:47 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Lane Evans is a great guy and member of Congress. This is very sad on a host of fronts. My dad suffers from Parkinson's which is a truly horrible disease. I wish him well fighting it.

Posted by: John Mills [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 31, 2006 12:55 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment