Avoiding voters, town meetings could cost Republican seatsBy Kevin Beese For Chronicle Media — February 12, 2017
Lynda DeLaforgue has worked on behalf of public interest issues for 30 years and says she has rarely seen the kind of public outcry that has been visible statewide since Donald Trump became president.
“Only a few times have I seen this kind of anger,” said the co-director of the Chicago-based Citizen Action/Illinois, a public interest organization. “Lawmakers need to wake up and smell the coffee.”
She said Republican congressional leaders, like U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton, ducking constituents at public appearances is not helping their cause. Neither is them saying that the people lining up at the lawmakers’ appearances are “paid protesters,” DeLaforgue said.
“They are adding insult to injury,” DeLaforgue said. “The paid protester statement simply is not true. It is going to anger folks even more.”
Roskam cancelled a meeting two weeks ago with a group of people concerned about his support for repealing the Affordable Care Act. On Feb. 4, he got into a waiting vehicle pulled close to an exit door after he spoke to the Palatine Township Republican Organization despite hundreds of protesters outside looking to share their concerns on the potential ACA repeal with him.
Protesters were also likely to be at Roskam’s appearances this past weekend in River Forest and at WGN in Chicago. Results of those appearances were not available as of press time.
DeLaforgue said continued constituent anger, and Hillary Clinton winning Roskam’s 6th Congressional District in the November presidential race, may be cause for Roskam, normally on safe ground, to be ripe for ouster. He has already been labeled one of the 20 most vulnerable congressmen in the 2018 election.
His fellow Republican congressman, Randy Hultgren of Plano, is also not earning brownie points with some constituents. A group of 60 citizens wanted to share their stories about the Affordable Care Act with him last week at his Plano office. However, only two residents were admitted to speak with the congressman.
Neither congressmen nor their staffs responded to emails for comment on constituents getting access to the elected officials.
DeLaforgue said it is a combination of issues that have angered constituents, many of them actions by President Trump.
“People feel the best way to deal with Trump is to change Congress in 2018,” DeLaforgue said.
She said one of Representative Roskam’s constituents found out he was going to be in Washington D.C. the following week and wanted to meet with the congressman. He was told that the congressman needs two weeks’ notice to meet with anyone.
DeLaforgue said the issues riling up Illinois residents are things that hit close to home.
“These are things they really care about — the health of their families, immigrants,” DeLaforgue said. “These are issues that go to the heart of middle class America. These issues cannot be dismissed.”
She said Roskam’s appointed position as the only Illinois congressman on the powerful U.S. House Ways and Means Committee gives him a role in major legislation. He could play a big role for Illinois residents, but residents will not tolerate being ignored, DeLaforgue said.
When asked if Roskam, Hultgren and other Republicans could be lying low waiting for the anger to subside, she replied simply, “I don’t see how the anger is going to blow over.”
— Avoiding voters, town meetings could cost Republican seats —