Analyst: Rauner re-election, GOP gains coming in 2018
Illinois Democrats might have retained control of both chambers of the General Assembly in the general election, but a policy analyst is predicting that Illinois Republicans will pick up more legislative seats in 2018 and hold onto the governorship, possibly paving the way for reform measures.
“I’m going to say that in 2018, Rauner is going to get re-elected, narrowly, because I’m an optimist,” Patrick Hughes, cofounder of the Illinois Opportunity Project, said on a recent episode of “Illinois Rising,” a radio show hosted by Dan Proft.
Hughes predicts that Rauner’s challenger will be Jay Robert "J.B." Pritzker. He also believes that the time is ripe for Republicans to gain ground in the Illinois General Assembly.
“I’m going to predict because of the make-up of a different electorate, there (are) some smart people on the outside looking in, and some smart people in the Republican Party that we’re going to pick up between six and eight legislative seats in 2018,” Hughes said.
Hughes expects former state Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Peoria) to be convicted and sentenced to at least five years in prison on charges that he used government funds and campaign money for personal use.
“This was a guy bored with being a Peoria congressman who wanted to be a celebrity instead,” Hughes said. “And the only way for him to go from congressman to a celebrity was on other people’s dime.”
Schock has entered a not-guilty plea in his case.
At the national level, Hughes said he expects President-elect Donald Trump to keep the Senate and House in 2018, setting up the country for much-needed economic growth.
“I think that we’re going to see policies that are more traditionally tied to the American Republic that the populace is going to like and enjoy – sort of a return to sanity,” Hughes said.
Such a political shift would prompt an outcry from Democrats and progressives, but Hughes said policy changes and reforms are what the American people want.
“So obviously the big ones, if you look at it nationally and how that will trickle down into Illinois, if you repeal and replace Obamacare with something that’s more private-sector based and remove the lines of competition among insurers, then insurance premium costs will go down and the accessibility and the ability for patients to choose doctors will go up,” Hughes said.
Additionally, if Rauner is re-elected and Republicans pick up more seats in the General Assembly, Illinoisans can expect to see different tax policies, including a “real” property tax freeze.
“That will signal to the businesspeople to come back into the state that has a more business-friendly environment,” Hughes said. “If that’s combined with successful policies at the national level, including lowering the corporate income tax level, you’ll see economic growth, and that’ll lead to growth here in Illinois, and the creation of jobs, and people’s lives getting better.”
Hughes said he fundamentally believes the policies Republicans advocate will solve many of the issues burdening Illinoisans.
“I think if we have the chance to enact those policies and do it correctly, lives will improve in (2018) and (2019) and into 2020,” Hughes said.