March 29, 2006

Press reports on Evans retirement and fallout

An article in the Springfield State Journal-Register provides more insight on how the decision came about and the mechanism which will be used to select Evans' replacement.
When Vetzner and other top staffers met with Evans for what was supposed to be a planning session Monday afternoon, he surprised them with his decision to retire.

"He was joking around, teasing people as he does. He was in very good spirits, when he said, "I've decided to retire," said Vetzner, who has worked for Evans for 19 years.

Evans' chief of staff, Dennis King, and district director, Phil Hare, have worked with him since he was first elected in 1982.

"We're disappointed. We're family. We're shocked. But at the same time, we're certainly proud of everything he's worked for," Vetzner said.

Evans made the decision during the weekend after consulting with his three brothers and close friends, Vetzner said.

Evans was unopposed in the Democratic primary March 21. Democratic Party officials from the 17th Congressional District have until Aug. 31 to decide who replaces him on the Nov. 7 ballot. Republicans last week nominated former television anchor Andrea Zinga, who lost to Evans in 2004 after she made his health a campaign issue.

Evans told sympathetic audiences, "I may be slow, but I know which way to go." He defeated Zinga 61 percent to 39 percent.

On Tuesday, Zinga said, "I wish him the very best in his retirement. I also want to take the opportunity to recognize his many able years of service as a veteran and as a public servant to his country."

She refused to speculate whether the incumbent's retirement gives her an advantage in November.

"I think the best idea is to leave politics for another day," she said.

But Zinga's consultant Charlie Johnston suggested that Democrats might be hurt by the makeup of the oddly shaped district they drew after the 2000 census to give Evans a safe Democratic seat. The L-shaped district stretches from Rock Island to Calhoun counties, then juts out to include Macoupin and part of Sangamon. North-south rivalries could present a serious problem for Democrats, Johnston said.

"There might be truth to that in some circles, but in the final analysis, I think the Democratic chairmen are going to do what is right for that district," said Macoupin County Democratic Party Chairman Mike Mathis.

The Democratic precinct committee representatives in each of the 23 full and partial counties that make up the 17th Congressional District will have a weighted vote, based on the number of Democratic votes cast in last week's primary, according to Illinois State Board of Elections' legal counsel Steve Sturm. The counties expected to have the greatest influence in selecting a replacement are Rock Island, Fulton, Macon, Macoupin and Adams.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a memo to reporters noting that Zinga only has $3,600 in her campaign fund after a tough primary battle, and that the district remains strongly Democratic.

Potential Democratic candidates being mentioned include state Rep. Mike Boland of East Moline, state Sen. Mike Jacobs of East Moline, Rock Island Mayor Mark Schwiebert, Knox County State's Attorney Paul Mangieri, former Quincy Mayor Chuck Scholz and state Sen. John Sullivan of Rushville. Also mentioned are Hare, Evans' district director, and his economic development director, Jerry Lack.

Hare said he is "certainly interested," but declined further comment because he said he didn't want to take the spotlight from Evans.

Rock Island County Democratic Chairman John Gianulis declined to discuss possible candidates Tuesday. Knox County Democratic Chairman Norm Winick acknowledged Rock Island's significant influence in the selection process.

Evans' spokesman declined to say whether he planned to make an endorsement in the race.

However, politics was temporarily set aside on Capitol Hill on Tuesday as lawmakers of both parties lauded Evans and his many years of service.

Calling Evans "my best friend in the Illinois delegation," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told colleagues on the Senate floor that Evans "showed extraordinary political courage fighting for the values that brought him to public service. But his greatest show of courage has been over the last 10 years as he battled a cruel disease and those who tried to exploit his physical weakness," an apparent jab at Zinga.

Durbin and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., described Evans' battles to get compensation for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange, to help homeless veterans and those who suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

"He is one of the most gracious, best-humored and hardest-working people that I've ever had the pleasure to know," said Obama, who credited Evans' early support for his Senate campaign for his election.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., recalled his longtime partnership with Evans to end the use around the world of land mines, which endanger soldiers and civilians.

"His decency comes from deep within and it has touched the lives of millions of people to help make their lives better," Leahy said.

Republicans also praised Evans' long tenure in the House.

Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, said Evans "has a well-deserved reputation for delivering first-class constituent service, and it has been a true pleasure for me to work with him on a host of issues that impact the citizens of our adjacent districts."

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Plano, commended Evans for "his faithful service to the people he represents as a valuable member of the Illinois congressional delegation and wish him the best in his battle with Parkinson's disease."

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Buyer, R-Ind., said he respected Evans, who was senior Democrat on the committee.

"Even when we disagreed on policy matters, I never doubted that his policies on veterans' matters are rooted in his service as a United States Marine during the Vietnam era. Lane is a man of integrity, compassion and honor," Buyer said.

In Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich also praised Evans' tireless work on behalf of veterans and his constituents.

"All along the way, he held tight to his values and priorities," Blagojevich said. "I'm saddened by the news that Lane's battle with Parkinson's is taking him out of public service."
The Chicago Trib notes,
The surprise announcement by Evans touched off a wave of speculation Tuesday over whom state Democratic officials would choose to represent the party on the November ballot. When he came to office, his district was one of the most competitive in Illinois, but after state lawmakers redrew the boundaries in 2000, it became a far safer district for Democrats.

"It was a lot more within our grasp before it was carved up," said Tom Getz, the GOP chairman in Rock Island County. "Now it's a lot more difficult for Republicans to win in this district. But it's still possible."

The district, which is made up of nine counties and pieces of 14 others, was described by Congressional Quarterly as "a geographic monstrosity," including much of central Illinois' border along the Mississippi River "with tentaclelike appendages as far inland as Springfield and Decatur."

A list of a half dozen state legislators and local officials emerged Tuesday as possible candidates. Because Evans decided to announce his retirement a week after the Illinois primary, he will have to be replaced on the ballot. The party's candidate will be decided by Democratic chairmen in the district's counties.
The list of Democrats being considered for Evans' seat include: state Sen. Mike Jacobs of East Moline; Phil Hare, Evans' chief of staff; state Rep. Mike Boland of East Moline; Mark Schwiebert, mayor of Rock Island; and Paul Mangieri, Knox County state's attorney, who was defeated last week in his bid for the Democratic nomination for state treasurer.
And the AP story picked up by the San Fransico Chronicle contains the "his brain works fine" quote from Sen. Jacobs.


At 3/29/2006 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you knew Lane you would know that Sen. Jacobs comment is very accurate. It sounds like you are making fun of Jacobs and I don't understand that. Lane's brain does work fine. His words do not always come easy for him.

At 3/29/2006 9:25 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I know Lane and I am not making fun of him, as you suspect. I find it somewhat inarticulate to say of someone that "his brain works fine" as if he's a car and you're saying the transmission works fine.

No one's ever doubted Evans' intellect or capacity for thought and reason has been diminished.

That's not the way Parkinson's works.

In a way, it's more insulting to find it necessary to note that someone's "brain works fine".

At least in my opinion that sounds somewhat condescending.

At 3/30/2006 3:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't , "His mind is still sharp" be a be a better way to say it, Dope? I was struck by the awkward choice of words as well.

At 3/30/2006 7:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree. It is helpful to people with parkinson's disease. His brain does work fine. And to let people know that this is the case will help people when they are adressing Lane and communicating with him.

At 3/30/2006 8:37 AM, Anonymous who is watching the store said...

"It would be up to Mr. Johnston and co-chairman Mary Boland to establish a proxy system" - this is taken from qconline...

Isn't Mary Boland married to Mike Boland?

Our news channels here are a hoot. They listed Boland as a Senator last night. Bet he was salivating over that one.

At 3/30/2006 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of people have said to me "You know, Schwiebert is a republican". How come people are so uninformed? Or is there something I don't know?

At 3/30/2006 6:50 PM, Anonymous paladin said...

Channel 8 says that Lane has chosen Hare as his successor. Are you happy now Democrats? The Man Of The People has chosen his long time aid. Feeling left out? Hey, join the club!

At 3/30/2006 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This might come of surprise but I also heard a rumor that Jerry Costello is retiring in the 12th district. This is just a rumor but I heard something out of D.C. We as Democrats need to bond together and fill these seats fast. We have some big elections around the state. The 6th district and the 14th are the two biggest we can win. We cannot lose those other two seats.

At 3/30/2006 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

who would have thought that Lane Evans would end up being this sleazy. To retire a week after the primary then let every politition get into the ring then to say oh by the way I want my long time buddy to have the job reaks of cronyism. He will be remembered for this and not for his work. To bad. Jacobs at least had to face primary challenge after his fathers heart condition forced him into retirement.

At 3/30/2006 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Republicans are trying to make a big deal out of Lane avoiding a primary fight and handing over the reigns of power to his best friend.
Did you really think Lane was going to let this politcal prize slip through his hands?

This appointment was a slick politcal move worthy of future study. Imagine the chaos if Lane failed to appoint Phil Hare.

At 3/31/2006 12:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama Votes Nay

At 3/31/2006 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lane can't appoint anyone and I am taking odds that Hare will not get the appointment. Jacobs felt the backlash so will Hare.

At 3/31/2006 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jacobs won, so will Hare. Perhaps backlash is a good thing!

At 3/31/2006 6:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jacobs was a real candidate though. I think that Boland has done a lot of good work with the precinct committemen. And that will carry him over the top.

At 4/01/2006 9:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is going to replace Boland in the house?

At 4/01/2006 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Porter McNeil would be a great replacement for Boland

At 4/01/2006 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dennis Ahern would be a great replacement for Boland.

At 4/01/2006 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think former State Rep candidate Dennis Ahern is the likely choice. He ran a positive, issues oriented campaign with very little money last time, and won the endorsement of many. Just like Rumler, he got beat out in the hinterlands fairly convincingly but performed well in RI County. With some money behind him he is a good choice for the party.

At 4/02/2006 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Madigan will want his machine guy Porter McNeil. To bad the Lane cut the primary election process out with this dirty trick. At least Jacobs had to get through a primary. Both the Congressional and Rep seats will have to go without a primary.

At 4/02/2006 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those Dems who haven't figured it out yet--- Mark Schwiebert is a REPUBLICAN!!!

At 4/02/2006 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jacobs should go to Congress and Mcneil to the Illinois Senate.

At 4/02/2006 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 11:37, Did you get out your Democrat measuring stick. Amazing how some idiots know the "true" democrats. LOL

At 4/03/2006 6:32 AM, Blogger diehard said...

Well one way is how Sherbert voted on Big Island and kissed Riverstone's booty.
Another is the fact that Mayor Mark has never supported one Democrat for office zero, nada,zip!
Oh and every Republican I know thinks he's a republican!

At 4/03/2006 11:52 AM, Anonymous Ronnie B. said...

I hear that Boland will run for both Congress and Representative (if he gets the nod for the ballot). Can he do this? Is it legal? Can you run on federal and state ballot both? I heard that if he wins as Congressman he will appoint someone to his seat, probably his wife. This also insures him to keep his seat at a rep if Zinga were to beat him. I heard this from pretty good source and it seems like a can of worms to me.

At 4/03/2006 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BOland will win the nomination.

At 4/03/2006 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Mike Boland can and is running for both seats. Mike is able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

At 4/03/2006 6:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boland can't have it both ways. Therefore, he will bow out of the hard challenge as usual and stay where he is ---safe in his State Rep district. Plus Boland's actions the last two weeks have not helped him but hurt him greatly in the party.

At 4/04/2006 9:38 AM, Anonymous jojo said...

I want to know if he can legally run for both seats at the same time? Seriously!

At 4/04/2006 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then Schweibert and Boland have a lot in common that they don't support other local dems (unless your Boland and theres a Jacobs running then you support the other guy.) Lets get someone fresh in there.


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