Illinois AFL-CIO’s Tim Drea: Election was a ‘mixed bag’ for Labor

TIM DREA, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, says the November election was a mixed bag for Labor, in part, because of the millions spent by anti-union billionaires.

Springfield, IL – Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea considers the November election a success, but less than complete because of some prominent defeats.

“As with most elections, we have a mixed bag,” Drea said in a report to Labor leaders. “But it is worth noting that we will maintain labor-friendly super-majorities in the state Senate and House, and the Democrats will control the remapping process following the census.”

“While some results may be hard to swallow, the challenges were significant this year in working around a pandemic, trying to fight regression in seats drawn for Republicans that we took two years ago, and attempting to score super-majority victory totals in the Fair Tax ballot initiative and retaining Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride.”

The Fair Tax plan went down to defeat, and voters chose not to retain Kilbride.

“We would like to thank all of our affiliates for their monumental efforts toward making sure that Labor remains an electoral force in Illinois, especially those with unions that contributed release staff, volunteers and resources to the Labor 2020 program,” Drea said.

Drea and Secretary-Treasurer Pat Devaney pointed to some high points including:

  • Labor 2020 This was a vigorous outreach for targeted and statewide races including 295,000 local union mail pieces, 636,352 phone calls, more than 50,000 union household canvasses, more than 300,000 texts to union household members, and 6,656 canvasses using the new Local Union Digital Canvass Tool.
  • President Drea said Labor delivered in Illinois for President-elect Joe Biden, who won 55 percent to 43 percent in the state.
  • U.S. Senate Labor-supporting Sen. Dick Durbin won re-election to a fifth term by a wide margin.
  • Congress Drea noted the victories of endorsed Democrat Sean Casten in the 6th Congressional District and Lauren Underwood in the 14th District. A defeat was the loss of Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (D-Springfield), in the 13th District to incumbent Rep. Rodney Davis, he said.
  • Fair Tax The AFL-CIO strongly supported Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Fair Tax proposal to replace the state’s flat income tax with a progressive system with higher rates for the wealthiest residents. It needed 60 percent of the vote but reached only 45 percent. “The tens of millions dumped in by anti-union billionaires to run a blatant misinformation media campaign clearly took its toll,” Drea said.
  • Supreme Court Third Judicial District Justice Thomas Kilbride needed a 60 percent vote to be retained but received only 56 percent. “Kilbride was also subject to a multi-million dollar campaign to deny his retention,” Drea noted. The Supreme Court will choose whether to fill the vacancy, and a new election will be held in the 2022 general election, along with an election for a vacancy in the 2nd Judicial District.
  • State Senate Labor 2020 helped win all three Illinois Senate races it had targeted, including picking up a formerly Republican seat. The score now stands at 41 Democrats and 18 Republicans in the Senate.
  • State House Democrats lost two seats but still have a supermajority with 72 votes to Republicans’ 46. Wins in tough races that Drea cited included those of Labor supporters Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville), Lance Yednock (D-Ottawa), Terra Costa Howard (D-Glen Ellyn) and Joyce Mason (D-Gurnee).

Costello, Phelps will cast Illinois electoral ballots

Springfield, IL – Two names familiar to southern Illinois Democrats and their supporters will be among the 20 Electoral College delegates from Illinois. They are former Congressman Jerry Costello and longtime state representative Brandon Phelps.

Costello and Phelps are planning to join the other delegates in Springfield on Dec. 14 to cast votes representing their Congressional districts, although plans were not final last week because of complications from COVID-19 and President Trump’s refusal to concede defeat.

Costello served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1988 to 2013, becoming the dean of the Illinois delegation. He has continued working in a variety of roles. He will represent his old district, the 12th, in the electoral college. The district includes most of the Metro-East and the western half of southern-most Illinois.

His son, Jerry Costello II, served in the Illinois legislature and earlier this year was appointed director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, where he awaits confirmation whenever the Senate goes back in session.

Phelps, of Harrisburg in Saline County in southeastern Illinois, served eight terms in the Illinois House, representing the 118thDistrict, first winning election in 2002. He won re-election by large margins every two years until he resigned in 2017. This year, he has returned to the scene as a lobbyist with Dorgan, Butcher & Phelps LLC.

Phelps will represent the 15th Congressional District, which includes the east side of southern Illinois as far north as Champaign-Urbana and includes parts of Madison, Bond, Clinton and Washington counties in the Metro-East region.

The 13th Congressional District, which includes parts of Madison County and areas to the north and east, will be represented by Jayne Mazzolli, a teacher from Taylorville.

Senate President Don Harmon and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will cast the state’s two at-large ballots. The remaining delegates mostly are local political officials and members of the Democrats’ state central committee, including Costello and Phelps.



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