Ann Maher Aug. 16, 2016, 3:39pm


With more than $500,000 at the disposal of Democrat lawmaker Dan Beiser of Alton, the race for the 111th House District figures to be one of the more competitive legislative races statewide this fall.

Beiser seeks a seventh term in office as he faces Republican Mike Babcock, Wood River Township Supervisor, in November. Babcock, township supervisor since 2009, did not run in the March primary; he was slated by the Madison County Republican organization in May.

The total in Beiser's campaign fund at the end of June - $527,380 - represents more than seven times what a state lawmaker's salary is. State representatives earn $67,000 annually, plus $111 per diem stipends while lawmakers are in session.

Beiser's war chest is more than double that of his associated senator, Democrat Bill Haine of Alton, who also is seeking re-election, to an eighth term. Haine had $28,450 on hand at the end of June, plus a $230,000 investment total.

Haine does not have an opponent in November.

Beiser's account ballooned in the fourth quarter of 2015 when within three months he received $376,042 in contributions - mostly from labor groups, such as:

-Laborers' Political League Education Fund, Washington D.C., $53,900;

-Construction and General Laborers' District Council of Chicago & Vicinity Labor, $53,900;

-Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Political Action Committee, $52,050;

-Health Care Council of Illinois PAC, $50,000;

-I.U.O.E. Local 150 Local Area Poliltical Action Committee, $48,900;

-UA Political Education Committee, Anapolis, Md., $10,000.

By comparison, Babcock had $6,110 on hand at the end of June. The only financial support that has come close to matching Beiser's has been $106,461 in funds and staff support from the House Republican Organization. The Illinois Republican Party also spent nearly $18,000 for Babcock campaign literature.

While funding for the two camps is disproportionate, the candidates have one thing in common. They are both supported by their party leaders: House Speaker Michael Madigan behind Beiser and Gov. Bruce Rauner behind Babcock.

And both candidates are relying on negative sentiment voters have for those leaders, which was largely fomented during a contentious two-year long budget battle that eased when lawmakers passed a stopgap measure June 30 on the brink of entering another fiscal year without a budget.

While polls have showed that both leaders have suffered loss of support among voters, Speaker Madigan has fared worse.

During his campaign announcement, Babcock called the agenda of Beiser and Madigan "a failure," one that has left the state bankrupt, with crushing property taxes and a "crumbling" education system.

"Beiser doesn’t answer to his constituents; he answers only to powerful Illinois House Speaker, Michael Madigan,” Babcock said. “If Dan Beiser won’t stand up to Mike Madigan, I will."

Beiser, whose party has controlled the state legislature for decades, blamed Springfield's "toxic political environment" on Rauner and his allies.

“Governor Rauner has held our state hostage for over a year in an attempt to pass his dangerous political agenda, which harms working families by attacking the good, well-paying jobs of our community," Beiser said in a statement. "Now Rauner has recruited Mike Babcock to lead this assault right here in our area and stab his own neighbors in their backs."

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