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Beiser stepping down from State House one year early; Bristow appointed Monday

By Ann Maher | Dec 18, 2017

(This story has been updated).

State Rep. Dan Beiser (D-Alton) resigned the seat he has held since 2004 on Sunday, with the Democrat candidate seeking to succeed him being appointed Monday to serve out the remainder of his term.

Beiser, who had already announced in August that he would not seek an eighth term in November 2018, said in a press statement that he was officially stepping down on Sunday.

His decision not to seek re-election came after he voted for a budget bill that raised the state income tax by 32 percent as well as a vote to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of the bill. The state income tax rate increased from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent.

After those controversial votes were taken in July, taxpayer watchdog group Americans for Prosperity said it would target certain legislators, including Beiser, with ads, direct mail and grassroots activity. 

The Illinois General Assembly site lists Beiser as a former House member, but has not been updated to reflect Bristow's appointment.

Beiser's resignation announcement states in part:

“Serving our Metro East community has been one of the greatest honors of my life. I have had the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people to help improve our communities and I am proud of the accomplishments we have achieved together.”

Democrat party leaders from Madison and Jersey counties appointed their candidate Monica Bristow to fill Beiser's unexpired term. Bristow, 56, of Godfrey, left her post as president of the RiverBend Growth Association earlier this year to pursue a campaign for Beiser's seat. She was sworn in at Lewis and Clark Community College.

According to a report in the RiverBender, Bristow said upon her appointment: “It’s truly an honor for me to be here today as a new voice for our community. Throughout my career, I’ve had the great privilege of working with so many people and organizations with different backgrounds here in this area with the goal of creating new jobs, expanding economic opportunity and making our community a better place to live and work. As state representative, I’m excited to continue fostering those relationships to address important issues such as job creation, access to health care, funding for education and tax relief for middle-class families.”

Experience as an incumbent could help her as she campaigns against Republican challenger Mike Babcock.

Babcock, 55, of Bethalto, currently serves as Wood River Township Supervisor.

In the 2016 general election, Babcock challenged Beiser but lost by a margin of 51.6 to 47.4 percent.  

Babcock issued a statement following Bristow's appointment: "In typical Madison County insider fashion, a last minute backroom deal has been struck. Swapping out one Mike Madigan loyalist for another won’t make the Metro East stronger. It’s a new name with the same disastrous results for taxpayers. I believe the people are ready for a change and I’m ready to provide a new direction for our state with lower taxes, less spending, balanced budgets, a growing economy and the end of Madigan’s tyrannical reign over Illinois.”

Babcock's campaign committee has raised approximately $6,800 this year, $2,000 of which came from the Illinois Opportunity Project in November.

Bristow has not registered a campaign finance committee with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Beiser has received contributions as late as the day before he officially stepped down.

He received $3,000 from Chicago Land Operators Joint Labor Management PAC on Dec. 16 and $3,000 from the Construction and General Laborers' District Council of Chicago and Vicinity on Dec. 15.

Beiser's committee reported approximately $65,000 at the end of September and spent a little more than $23,000 in the third quarter, with $43,884.51 on hand. 

Among $18,000 in expenditures included $230 paid to Champagne Limousines in Godfrey for "staff/volunteer transportation Citizens for Beiser;" approximately $2,800 for a National Conference of State Legislatures in Boston in September; approximately $1,200 in car payments. 

Local organizations that received donations were Alton VFW, $850; St. Mary's Catholic Church of Alton, $600; St. Ambrose of Godfrey, $500; Knights of Columbus Quarterback Club, $500; Impact of Alton, $275; Oriental Garden Fund of Alton, $250 and Oasis Women's Center of Alton, $200.

Approximately $4,000 was spent on other political action committees.

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Illinois General Assembly Mike Babcock for State Representative