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Democrats attack Parkhurst on vote

August 8, 2018

Big money from Springfield means the start of attack mailers in the local race for state representative.

Until recently, Democratic candidate Lisa Dugan had run positive flyers calling herself an “independent fighter” for “working families.”

But in the last few days, the state party mailed a flyer attacking Dugan’s opponent, state Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst, R-Kankakee, on her vote against a bill known as the “Keep Illinois Business Act.” An anti-Dugan mailer also has appeared in mailboxes in recent days.

The Democratic flyer says “incumbent politician” Parkhurst voted to allow “wealthy foreign corporations to ship our jobs overseas while pocketing our tax dollars.”

The bill would have barred state incentives from going to companies with primary business operations in Illinois that decide to move jobs out of state.

In a statement Tuesday, Parkhurst said she voted against the bill because it was “incredibly broad resulting in severe penalties for businesses.” It appeared to be a “gotcha” bill used for campaign mailers, she said.

Parkhurst said the bill would place an “enormous burden” on businesses in Illinois. She noted the law already requires businesses that leave within five years of receiving EDGE grants to reimburse the state for all assistance and incentives they received.

Although a big Democratic majority approved the legislation in the House in spring 2017, it has gone nowhere in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

In the Democratic mailer, Dugan, a Bradley resident, appears in a color photo wearing a hardhat talking to blue-collar workers, while Parkhurst is in black and white.

John Jackson, a visiting professor at Southern Illinois University’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, said the bill might have been specifically designed for mailers to attack Republicans.

“Sometimes bills are showpiece legislation to put the other party on the spot,” he said. “There is a certain amount of theater that goes into these things.”

As for it not going to the Senate, Jackson said, “Sometimes there is genuinely more opposition in the other body. It may not be as Machiavellian as it seems. On the other hand, it could be.”

This summer, Dugan, who served in the House from 2003 to 2013, has raised more than $100,000 from the state Democratic Party, headed by House Speaker Michael Madigan.

In its flyers, the Democratic Party repeatedly mentions Dugan’s long career as a union electrician, as well as her service on her village board and chamber of commerce. But the Daily Journal could find no reference to her dozen years in the House, perhaps so she does not appear as an establishment candidate.

Parkhurst, meanwhile, has received about $21,000 from Republican organizations. Late last month, Gov. Bruce Rauner donated $2 million to the House Republican Organization, one of the groups helping Parkhurst.

Rauner’s money likely will be targeted at competitive districts such as Parkhurst’s 79th.

In the last few days, Parkhurst sent a mailer titled the “Parkhurst Pulse,” paid for by state taxpayers, a benefit all lawmakers enjoy. It includes items about government transparency, a job fair and a diaper drive. Her photo appears six times in the piece.

Last month, she sent a taxpayer-funded flyer asking residents for their opinions on issues such as recreational marijuana and the progressive income tax. An aide said the results would be available in the fall.

All such state-supported mailers must be sent out by Sept. 1 before an election.

Parkhurst won with 53 percent of the vote over Democratic Rep. Kate Cloonen in the 2016 election.