Irvin might run for Illinois Senate seat
By Ed Fanselow
Congressman Henry Hyde's announcement earlier this week that he will not seek re-election has touched off a political domino effect that could open the door for failed Aurora mayoral candidate Richard Irvin to make a run for the Illinois Legislature.
Irvin said Thursday that he is "looking into the possibility" of running for the Illinois Senate seat that will be left open should sitting Sen. Peter Roskam enter the race to succeed Hyde in Washington.
"I'm definitely interested," Irvin said. "Above all, I'm interested in public service, but this could be a good opportunity for me to stay politically active."
He said his decision largely will be based on the two other men who Republican sources say are eyeing Roskam's seat — state Reps. Randy Hultgren, of Wheaton, and Joe Dunn, of Naperville.
Irvin indicated he likely would not run for Senate if Dunn enters the race and then would consider seeking to fill Dunn's seat in the Illinois House, which includes the DuPage County portion of Aurora and the western half of Naperville.
Roskam's Senate seat includes that area in addition to most of Wheaton, Warrenville, West Chicago and Winfield and parts of Batavia, Geneva and North Aurora.
Neither Dunn nor Hultgren could be reached for comment Thursday.
Irvin, a 34-year-old attorney, is less than three weeks removed from the Aurora mayoral race that saw him finish some 20 percentage points behind Democrat Tom Weisner in a highly partisan contest that attracted the attention of some of Illinois' most well-known political luminaries.
Both of the state's U.S. senators — Barack Obama and Dick Durbin — made campaign stops here on Weisner's behalf, while Irvin was buoyed by the endorsement and financial backing of House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego — in addition to both Dunn and Hultgren.
A Cross spokesman said Thursday that it is too early to tell which candidate — if any — Cross would back in a theoretical Republican primary for the state Senate seat.
Roskam, meanwhile, gave every indication Thursday that he is running for Congress, although he stopped short of declaring his candidacy.
Speaking during a conference call with about 20 reporters from his office in Springfield, he announced that he is embarking on an "exploratory" campaign to seek Hyde's 6th Congressional District seat less than one week after the conservative Capital Hill icon announced that he would step down after more than 30 years in office.
Roskam — a well-credentialed conservative in his own right and a one-time Hyde aide — long has been rumored to have designs on replacing the 81-year-old Hyde, whose district now encompasses a broad swath of northern DuPage County stretching from O'Hare International Airport to near the Kane County line.
Like Hyde, Roskam has focused his legislative career on advancing a deeply conservative social agenda which includes a strong opposition to abortion, embryonic stem cell research and — as evidenced recently — homosexual rights. He is also a staunch fiscal conservative who favors smaller government and lower taxes.
He said Thursday that he wouldn't shy away from charges that he would serve as a "Hyde clone" if he went to Washington.
"There's no higher praise than that," Roskam said. "If I could emulate him, that would be a goal of mine. My fondness for him has no end."
Roskam also dismissed the notion floated by one of his likely opponents — fellow Republican state Sen. Carole Pankau of Roselle — that voters in Hyde's district are looking for more socially moderate representation.
"I think she's a bit misguided in that characterization," Roskam said. "This is a district that has elected Henry Hyde for 31 years, and they're comfortable with who he is and the way he's handled himself in Washington."
Former DuPage County Recorder J.P. Rick Ricardi is the only Republican to announce a formal bid for the office, although Pankau and former State Rep. Tom Johnson of West Chicago both have said they are considering a run seriously.
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