Metro-East News

State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld won’t run for re-election

Sen. Dave Luechtefeld on the floor of the Illinois Senate.
Sen. Dave Luechtefeld on the floor of the Illinois Senate.

Being in office for 22 years will be it for State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, who confirmed Thursday he decided he won’t run for re-election in 2016.

Luechtefeld, whose residence was re-drawn into another district in 2011, was facing a deadline to move into the new 58th Senate District.

“It would be difficult to pick up and move at this stage in my life,” the 74-year-old Luechetefeld said.

His Okawville house is now in the 54th Senate District represented by fellow Republican Kyle McCarter of Lebanon.

He said renting an apartment within the 58th Senate District would have been “a little phony.”

“I could have done that, but even that changes your life a lot,” Luechtefeld said.

Luechtefeld said the redistricting process is one of the uglier things done by the General Assembly, and called the process the ultimate partisanship.

“If you can draw the map, you can control the legislature,” Luechtefeld said. “This is not democracy at its best.”

“It is what it is,” Luechtefeld added. “I’m no different than anyone else who’s been drawn out.”

Whoever runs would need to start gathering nominating petitions in the fall ahead of the March primary.

“People in this district will vote for a Republican or a Democrat, if they believe you’re honest,” said Luechtefeld, who has been in his seat since 1995.

“It’s a tough seat to hold, I don’t know who will run from the Republican side,” he added. “It’s a little early to speculate.”

Luechtefeld added if he had not been drawn out of his district, he could have considered running again.

“That’s hard to say, but that’s definitely a possibility,” Luechtefeld said.

Dave Yepsen, the director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, said open senate seats don’t come along often.

“I would imagine this would be competitive,” Yepsen said. “It depends on the candidates.”

He added the upcoming presidential election could help increase Democratic turnout.

Yepsen said Luechtefeld’s seat is one Republicans will need to hold on to and may have to invest resources in to defend in the 2016 election.

“Their margin (of error) is pretty slim in the senate,” Yepsen said.

John Jackson, a professor emeritus at Southern Illinois University and staff member at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, said the seat in the past has been Democratic before Ralph Dunn won in 1988. Luechtefeld eventually was apponted to replace Dunn in 1995.

“Once you get in and been in there for a number of years, it gives you a real advantage,” Jackson said.

Jackson and Yepsen said to expect a lot of money to be spent on advertising on the expected race.

“There will be a lot of attention, a lot of money and a lot of television,” Jackson said.

Luechtefeld said working in Springfield has been frustrating the last 12 years with Democrats holding super-majorities in both houses.

“If you look at what they’ve done, after 12 years, they’ve almost bankrupt the state,” Luechtefeld said. “After 12 years of absolute control to leave a state where we are now, you can’t blame that one anyone else. Anyone that attempts to is not being honest.”

He added he enjoyed mostly doing constituent work.

“(I have) a great satisfaction to be able to help people to get something done they couldn’t get done by themselves,” Luechtefeld said. “It sounds corny, but it’s truly a great feeling.”

Luechtefeld serves as the Senate Republicans’ assistant leader, and helps develop and guide the GOP agenda in the Senate. He serves on the Senate education, executive, financial institutions, higher education, and agriculture and conservation committees.

The Senate currently has 40 Democrats and 19 Republicans.