Chapa LaVia's defeat in primary race may open opportunity for GOP
In what the Illinois Opportunity Project co-founder called an "upset loss" for state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora) in Aurora's mayoral primary race, her defeat was significant because she lost despite backing from the state's powerful House speaker, he said.
"Something happened on the way to victory," Dan Proft said during a recent edition of the Chicago-based radio talk show Illinois Rising, which he co-hosts with Illinois Opportunity Project co-founder Pat Hughes. "She didn't get it. She finished third, she's out of the race."
Proft is a principal of Local Government Information Services (LGIS), which owns Will County Gazette. Proft also is the chairperson and treasurer of Liberty Principles PAC, as well as a senior fellow at the Chicago-based conservative think tank Illinois Policy Institute. Illinois Rising is a presentation of the Illinois Policy Institute.
Chapa LaVia's defeat in February may also indicate what her future could be in the Illinois House, Proft said.
"Obviously, this is an off-year election, so she didn't have to give up her legislative seat in order to run for mayor," Proft said. "She retains that legislative seat but maybe her constituents have tired of Chapa LaVia's stoogery on behalf of House Speaker Mike Madigan. Maybe this is an opportunity where Republicans come up with a new candidate out there who really takes at Chapa LaVia."
Chapa LaVia, the 49-year-old daughter of Texas cotton pickers, has represented Illinois' 83rd District since 2003. The district includes part of Kane County, including the city of Aurora. During the 2002 election, she became the the first person of Hispanic descent to win a seat in the General Assembly outside of Cook County, defeating Rep. Bob O'Connor.
Now Aurora alderman-at-large, O'Connor has been acting mayor of the city since Tom Weisner stepped down last fall for health reasons. Weisner was mayor for 11 years.
During the Aurora mayoral primary race, Chapa LaVia criticized the office of O'Connor, who was not a candidate in the primary, for a lack of transparency and accountability.
O'Connor disputed Chapa LaVia's assessment of his office.
"As mayor of Aurora, I strongly believe that ethics, transparency and accountability are vital to the success of our city," O'Connor told the Chicago Tribune. "Not only do I just believe it, I've strived to uphold the high standards of each as a public servant for the past three decades."
Alhough the race is officially nonpartisan, Chapa LaVia ran for Aurora mayor during the consolidated election last month with the backing and support of Madigan, the Democratic House speaker from Chicago. She was among five Aurora residents to sign up for that race. Others were Jose Luis Del Bosque, Ward Six Alderman Michael B. Saville, Aurora Assistant Chief of Staff Richard E. Guzman and Aurora Alderman at Large Richard C. Irvin.
Guzman is widely viewed to have bipartisan support. He has been endorsed by Kane County Board Chairman and former Republican state Sen. Chris Lauzen, as well as Weisner, who was a three-term Aurora Mayor, 2012 delegate for former President Barack Obama and a donor to former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.
With their wins during the primary, Irvin and Guzman will face off in the April 4 race.
"That should be an interesting race because that's an opportunity to, again, provide a big model of rethinking municipal government that could be replicated throughout the state," Proft said. "You could right-size Aurora city government, address some of the gang and crime problems that they have at the city level."