When Democrat Vince Demuzio was alive, he ran the 49th District with a velvet-gloved iron fist. A conservative Democrat, Demuzio rarely had a challenger during his thirty years in the General Assembly.
When he died two years ago at age 62 of colon cancer, his wife Deanna accepted local Democrats’ offer to complete her husband’s Senate term. Out of respect, no one challenged her in 2004.
But locals say the Mrs. isn’t the legislator her husband was, and although she has his name and inherited his campaign war chest, she has adopted her own positions on political issues and supports Chicago leadership more than her constituents wish she would.
In that sensitive political scene, the Republicans searched for a candidate that would have appeal and present an image of a neighborly hard worker, someone in touch with the district’s voters, a contrast to their Democratic incumbent.
Senate Republicans tapped Taylorville alderman Jeff Richey, a family man active in local politics, charitable organizations as well as his church. A 20 year member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Richey is now a trouble shooter for Dominion Energy.
Richey says the current senator consistently votes lockstep with the Chicago Democratic leadership, which more often than not leaves the 49th district wanting. Demuzio, as well as all other Democrats, supported the 2006 budget which went to Chicago pork projects and new programs the state cannot afford.
Richey agrees that parents should be notified before their daughters seek abortions or are screened for mental health problems. He is against raising taxes and fees, and believes funds assigned for pensions should be used as they are intended. He supports the traditional definition of marriage and opposes expanding gambling to fund education.
A pick for the United Republican Fund’s Six for ’06 project, Richey was endorsed in the primary by the Illinois Federation of Right to Life. Concerned about job growth in his rural district, he prizes the backing of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
A win for Republicans in the 49th District brings the GOP within two seats of regaining the coveted majority status in the Illinois Senate. Richey is competing with his opponent with the ability to raise over $220 thousand since July.
The 49th District includes all or portions of the following counties: Calhoun, Christian, Fayette, Greene, Jersey, Macoupin, Madison, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike and Shelby.
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