2010 Illinois elections marked by political challenges

_Editors note: This article is part of The Daily Illini’s year in review edition. These articles are meant to round-up the most important news of the academic year, Fall 2010 through Spring 2011._

After being re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Tim Johnson (R-15) commented on the political climate surrounding the 2010 elections, saying he noticed a political fervor unlike anything he has seen.

“There is a level of anxiety rippling through our country that I haven’t seen in nearly 40 years of public service,” Johnson said. “This was a vote for a return to a constitutionally limited government, for lower taxes, for less spending and for a more responsive government.”

Perhaps Johnson was witnessing the effects of voter discontent at the partisan politics that have gripped Washington since President Barack Obama was elected. That political discontent and the rise of the Tea Party marked the 2010 elections as the year incumbents faced major re-election challenges.

Though the elections were widely regarded as a referendum on the current political state, representatives in Illinois managed to get re-elected in a mostly down-to-the-wire election night.

The most notable candidates who won re-election were U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-103), state Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-52) and Gov. Pat Quinn. In the wide-open U.S. Senate race, Republican Mark Kirk edged out Democrat Alexi Giannoulias.

After elections, politicians in Illinois went to work on some historical — and some controversial — pieces of legislation. In early March, Gov. Quinn signed into law a measure that banned the death penalty in the state. Rep. Jakobsson was a co-sponsor of that legislation.

The General Assembly also passed an income tax increase as a means of shoring up the state’s budget shortfalls. The measure was a party-line vote, with virtually no support from state Republicans.

Quinn has also opposed a concealed carry bill and has threatened to veto if it reaches his desk, although the bill failed to make it out of the House.

Kirk won his first term in office in one of the tightest races in the country and has since opposed the federal spending bill as well as the health care bill proposed by Obama.

He also criticized Quinn’s decision to raise income taxes in Illinois when the Bush-era tax cuts were extended for the whole country.

“We will spend more on interest payments to our money lenders, the majority now foreign, than on the safety and security of the American people as a whole, so clearly we have to shift course,” Kirk said.