House Deputy Minority Leader Demmer considering statewide 2022 run
By JERRY NOWICKI [email protected]
State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, is considering a run for statewide office in 2022. Whether for governor, U.S. Senate or another position, he has not decided.
The 34-year-old Illinois House deputy minority leader has most recently been in the news as the leading Republican on the House Special Investigating Committee of Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan. He’s also one of the House Republicans’ lead negotiators on the state budget and Medicaid legislation.
Demmer said in an interview with Capitol News Illinois this week that he began contemplating a statewide run after discussions with colleagues on some of the “longer-running issues” facing Illinois, including public corruption and seemingly never-ending budget pressures. Those issues, he said, have sewn distrust in government that he believes can be remedied through bipartisan problem solving and coalition building.
“You have to prioritize that idea that we need to restore trust in government, that we need to turn a page from the ludicrous run of scandals that have been part of Springfield culture my entire life,” Demmer said. “And which, every single day, frustrate and make the people of Illinois become more and more disenchanted that their government is actually working for them.”
He specifically cited the dual role of Madigan as House speaker for all but two of the past 37 years and head of the state’s Democratic Party for the past two decades. Madigan was named as “Public Official A” this year in a federal deferred-prosecution agreement in which utility giant Commonwealth Edison admitted to a bribery scheme aimed at influencing the speaker.
A ‘common man’ upbringing
In the November elections, Republicans successfully deployed Madigan’s name and image in advertising on a wide scale, pummeling Democratic candidates for direct or tenuous ties to the speaker. Distrust in state-level politicians was also a theme used to defeat a progressive-income-tax constitutional amendment, a key priority of Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
Madigan has not been charged and denies wrongdoing, but that did not make the ads any less potent, and the number of high-profile Democrats and members of Madigan’s caucus seeking his ouster is growing. Republicans hope the weakening of the speaker brings broader change.
Demmer, who works as director of innovation and strategy at Katherine Shaw Bethea Hospital, which has locations in Lee and Ogle counties, touts his experiences with making deals in the General Assembly. He also touts a “common man” upbringing as the son of a public-school teacher whose mother founded the Home of Hope Cancer Wellness Center after his father’s death from brain cancer.
“I think that Illinois needs representation from average citizens across Illinois,” he said when asked what lessons could be learned from the four-year term of former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. “That we need to have representatives of the House and Senate and executive branch offices who really understand what it means to live and work and raise a family in Illinois.”
He has represented the 90th District since 2013, which includes parts of Ogle, LaSalle, DeKalb and Lee counties. Prior to that, he was elected at 23 to the county board in Lee County, where he lives with his wife and daughter.
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