Monday, November 08, 2004

Updated November 8, 2004 at 3:00 pm

A Tale of two North Shore [sort of] candidates: State Reps. Julie Hamos and Beth Coulson. Coulson and Hamos win re-election on, in and around the North Shore, but the victories mean very different things. For Coulson, a defeat of deception, shallowness and Speaker Mike. For Hamos, a slight setback to her push (1)for state government mandated "affordable housing," in affluent neighborhoods and (2) to win acceptance on the North Shore.
Eight year Republican/Independent State Rep. Beth Coulson, on November 2, 2004, won re-election over her challenger- Democrat Michele Bromberg in the 17th. However, Beth’s real opponents were Speaker Mike and Republican Senate Candidate Alan Keyes. Two years ago, then six year incumbent Coulson lost to Democrat Pat Hughes by 674 votes in a district that was supposed to have been redistricted in 2002 by Speaker Mike Madigan to go Democratic. In 2004, the word on the street was that Speaker Mike thought he had the “right demographic” candidate for the district, i.e., a Jewish female who was a Skokie Village trustee, and the Speaker was much more intent this time on defeating Coulson, very much a Tier One target.

This time, Coulson won by more than 4,000 votes, 54% to 46%. As to Speaker Mike—well, you can’t know everything, can you? If he had asked me, I could have interviewed Michele, told the Speaker she would lose and saved him a lot of time and money. That advice also would have saved some slight embarrassment to U. S. Senator Elect Barack Obama who allowed his good name to be used on misleading Bromberg-Illinois Democratic Party mailers. And, I am told that Obama did some radio ads for Bromberg, as well. An attempt by Obama to pick up a chit from the Speaker, no doubt. However, this was one instance in which Obama’s Coattails were a little short.

Bromberg also sought to wrap Alan Keyes around Beth Coulson in a district that is heavily Democratic, moderate to liberal. More importantly, for Coulson, though, is that the district is made up of sophisticated, educated voters who try to be fair. The deception of trying to tie Keyes to Coulson probably hurt Bromberg more than it helped her by creating a nice backlash for Coulson. Coulson has as much in common with Keyes as I do with socialists, which is to say not at all. The voters in the 17th may be very tolerant folks, but they don’t tolerate deception so well, even more so when it comes from the Madigan Machine. Advantage Coulson.

A hot topic on the North Shore and in the 17th was the Affordable Housing, Planning and Appeal Act. Although Republican Coulson voted for this Act, she signed the pledge circulated by a North Shore neighborhood group, New Trier Neighbors, who vigorously opposed the Act [See, generally,].

The pledge commited the signatories to support either repeal or suspension of the Act-- pending further study, which apparently was woefully deficient by the legislature prior to the Act’s passage. All the Republican state legislative candidates in the North Shore Area [Couslon, Curtis, Bryant and Brown] signed the Pledge. All the Democrat state legislative candidates in the North Shore area [Hamos, Bromberg, Garrett and May] declined to sign the Pledge.

On my show, "Public Affairs," Bromberg said she did not know how she would vote on the Affordable Housing Act, a stance of agnosticism she seemed to find attractive on many issues- explaining she wanted to get everybody in a room, reflect on it and then decide [See blog entry, below, dated Oct. 18, 2004 at 12:30 am]. Such ducking and dodging may go over big in the Chicago wards ruled by the Madigan Machine, but that is not the way it works in the 17th, advantage Coulson.
Six year incumbent Julie Hamos won re-election to her largely Evanston/North Shore 18th District seat on November 2, 2004. Hamos’ 18th was re-districted in 2002 by Speaker and Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Mike Madigan -- a long time good and close friend of Hamos’s husband, Appellate Justice and former Democratic Party legislative leader Alan Greiman. The Speaker’s intent, of course, was to make the North Shore portion of the District[leans slightly R] a minority segment of the District and to make Evanston the dominant, i.e., two-thirds, portion of the district. Evanston, heavily Democratic, is AKA the People’s Republic of Evanston.

With Evanston constituting such a dominant portion of the 18th, the District is almost impossible for a Democrat who is reasonably liberal to lose, and Hamos won it, on Nov. 2, with 74% of the vote, up slightly from her 2002 margin.

The Republican Candidate, Julianne Curtis [R-Wilmette], was one of the stronger Republican candidates put forward in the last 15 years, or so, in the 18th or its predecessor, 58th District. However, Curtis had some weaknesses. One, she had only lived in the 18th District for the last three or four years, depending on how you count [and she lived outside of this country for the 15 years prior to moving into the 18th District]. Two, her views on guns and gay rights were out of step and too far to the right even for the Kenilworth, Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe portion of the district, let alone Evanston.

Curtis was, on the other hand, an articulate supporter of free market, low tax, low spending and low regulation programs- programs that she argued would provide a good business environment and high rates of job growth in Illinois.

However, Curtis focused, in large part on the Affordable Housing Act. In the portion of the 18th that was outside Evanston [Evanston is unaffected by the Act], Curtis struck a responsive chord. And, for reasons only those who know Rep. Hamos well will understand, Hamos wanted very much to win the New Trier portion of her district and she campaigned much more vigorously, with extensive and extended coffees, etc., in that portion of her district. Hamos is nothing if not a very hard worker and campaigner.

Although Hamos stuck by her support for the Affordable Housing Act (declining to sign the New Trier Neighbor’s pledge opposing the Act), she did seem to try to minimize her role in its passage. Notwithstanding her large win in the District, Rep. Hamos lost, by 2%, New Trier Township, i.e., the North Shore portion of her district. It appears the loss by Hamos of New Trier Township was due, in good part, to Hamos’ support of the Affordable Housing Act, and the Act’s opponents consider their win in New Trier a significant victory in their effort to repeal or suspend the Act.

And, I would imagine, Rep. Hamos is more than a bit annoyed she cannot claim victory in New Trier. Advantage, New Trier Neighbors.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs, can be reached at