In Illinois House District 93, Republican Representative Norine Hammond of Macomb fought off a challenge by Democrat John Curtis of Macomb. Hammond called it a great campaign and a lot of hard work that paid off. She said her top priority going into the next term in January is to pass a balanced state budget, which she said will require a lot of negotiation and compromise.
“Our state is dependent on us acting responsibly, so that means being accountable to our taxpayers for their tax dollars and getting a budget in place, not just for the rest of this (fiscal) year but certainly as a framework for the years to come,” Hammond said.
The Illinois legislature has not passed a state budget in the last two years. Hammond was a part of the group of lawmakers that helped develop the stop gap spending plan that passed the legislature in late June to keep government running through the end of 2016.
She hopes Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan calls that group back to Springfield to extend the budget into 2017. “You never know what the speaker has in mind, but I am going to remain very positive and hopeful that we are allowed to do that,” Hammond said.
Hammond credits her 55%-45% victory to a strong ground game of volunteers working across the district. Both candidates spent a lot of time going door to door and meeting with voters.
Hammond took every county in the district. The only election jurisdiction she lost was the city of Galesburg. She won just a slim majority in some areas, including in McDonough County where Hammond received 51% of the vote.
“You know, that’s understandable with the challenges that we are facing with funding for higher education. But I think overall the message in all of the counties, all of the communities have appreciated the work I have been doing over the past six years, and showed that in the numbers tonight,” Hammond said.
During the campaign, Curtis questioned Hammond’s support of higher education and Western Illinois University citing her voting record against funding public universities and MAP grants for low-income students. Hammond has said those bills did not have appropriate funding behind them.
The race between Hammond and Curtis brought in nearly a $1 million in campaign contributions, far outpacing other legislative districts in western Illinois. Hammond outspent Curtis 3-to-1. Both candidates accused the other of being funded by party elites such as Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Much of that rhetoric played out through ads on television, radio, and online as well as through direct mailers to potential voters. Hammond and Curtis never debated face-to-face.
This was the first time Hammond faced opposition after being appointed to the seat in 2010 following the death of former Representative Rich Myers. Hammond had been Myers' legislative aide.
Curtis lost to Hammond by 3,866 votes out of 41,690 total votes cast. He said despite the loss, he feels the competitive race was good for the district.
“The thing about having competition in a race is your representatives know you’re watching,” said Curtis. “And that it exerts some pressure on them to pay a little bit more attention to their people sometimes and I think maybe our representative will work a little bit harder in the future because we will be watching,”
Representative Hammond will get back to work next week during the Fall Veto Session in Springfield. She said it’s too early to tell if the election will ease the gridlock in Springfield between Rauner and minority Republicans and Madigan and majority Democrats.
Republicans did pick up about seven seats in the Illinois House and Senate, which was enough to strip Democrats of their super majority, but not their control of the legislature.