Sabato's Crystal Ball

Illinois (17) House 2010

Crystal Ball Outlook: Leans R

Democratic candidates: Phil Hare, incumbent

Republican candidates: Bobby Schilling, restauranteur and businessman

Recent updates from the Crystal Ball

Update: October 14, 2010

The news goes from bad to worse for Phil Hare. Late last month he made his first appearance on our list of competitive races and now he becomes an even juicier GOP target. Outside groups have jumped in, from the NRCC to the American Future Fund, both of which are spending in the six figures on TV ads. The DCCC has been forced to spend over half a million dollars over the past two weeks to defend Hare, not exactly where they thought they would be spending their scarce resources. Hare’s GOP opponent, Bobby Schilling, is touting a late September poll showing him down by just a single point, a claim Hare and Democrats have yet to refute. This seat switches from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic.

Update: October 5, 2010

Phil Hare has been the name on the lips of Republicans this past week, the latest example of a surprisingly vulnerable Democratic incumbent. The NRCC released a survey this week showing their nominee, restaurateur and businessman Bobby Schilling, leading Hare 44%-43%. It was a shocking result, but actually matches earlier GOP polling in this district, while Democrats have yet to release any polling on their view of the race. That omission causes one to wonder: did this race sneak up on them or do they simply not have any good news to report? Whatever the case, this race rating moves from Safe Democratic to Likely Democratic.

Background:

Having earned a consistently liberal voting record since stepping into office in 2006, Democratic incumbent Phil Hare has a large electoral base to work with. Although he ran unopposed in 2008, he is facing a stiff challenge from Republican nominee Bobby Schilling. With campaign ads tying Hare to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, he is attempting to portray Hare as a free-spending Congressman. Additionally, Hare was caught on tape in April commenting how he “doesn’t worry about the Constitution” with regards to health care, he is still the favorite in this historically Democratic district. Unless Schilling can manage to win over Independents and some Democrats, Hare will remain in office.