Parkhurst wins House District 79, crushes Cloonen
After a somewhat contentious campaign in the 79th House District, Republican Lindsay Parkhurst used skill and perseverance to defeat incumbent state Rep. Kate Cloonen (D-Kankakee) by 8 percent.
In the race — a relatively expensive campaign totaling $4.5 million, according the Chicago Sun-Times — constituents heard claims that Cloonen was ”unqualified and unfit to serve” as Parkhurst asserted her independence from the “Madigan Machine,” a hot topic for the Illinois 2016 elections.
Lobbing barbs such as “Candy Crush Cloonen,” coined after Cloonen was spotted playing a Tetris-style video game on the House floor during the spring 2016 legislative session, and “Ruling Class Kate” for Cloonen’s general campaign slant — as well as sparring over issues such as term limits, tax hikes and map redistricting, Parkhurst emerged victorious yesterday, amassing 54 percent of the vote to Cloonen’s 46 percent.
Early on, Parkhurst described the incumbent as just another cog in the “Madigan Machine,” noting that a vote for “Ruling Class Kate is a roll call vote for Chicago Democrat boss (House Speaker) Mike Madigan (D-Chicago)” and that Cloonen voted in favor of the existing unbalanced budget.
“I will be the independent voice that we deserve and will work to rebuild Illinois,” said Parkhurst, an attorney residing in Kankakee who describes herself as a non-politician unafraid to speak out on the issues when confronted with what she perceived as unwholesome advertising tactics.
When Cloonen’s election team circulated what Parkhurst considered questionable material, for example, she stepped up to the plate and took a swing, alleging that Cloonen was disseminating falsehoods about her.
“Ruling Class Kate is lying about Lindsay Parkhurst's views on Social Security and Medicare, federal programs that have nothing to do with state government in the first place,” Parkhurst's flyer stated. “Aren't you sick of politicians who insult your intelligence? On November 8th, do something about it.”
Calling out deceptive content to undermine her opponent’s claims, Parkhurst was able to appeal to her constituency by underscoring Cloonen’s weak spots. When Cloonen made the mistake of falsely claiming that Parkhurst wanted to eliminate the Social Security and Medicare programs, for example, Parkhurst exposed her — and the voters listened.
Additionally, Politifact — an award-winning fact-checking initiative — rated the claim as "Pants on Fire" on its “Truth-O-Meter” scale.
Parkhurst proved an outspoken candidate on several levels. When Madigan promised that the House would meet weekly through June to get a budget approved for the state but then called off the sessions, she was quick to respond.
"Illinois hasn’t had a balanced budget for years, social service organizations are being shuttered and schools are at risk of not opening on time," she said.
Parkhurst also brought a strong reputation for supporting her community, advocating for youth and last year earning an award for pro bono attorney services rendered to citizens who could not afford a lawyer.
"I never planned to run for office … but my time of sitting on the sidelines is over,” Parkhurst said. “I’ve seen firsthand how entrenched politicians fail to help taxpayers and Illinoisans in need and continue to waste our hard-earned tax dollars while lining their own pockets."
Parkhurst takes a firm stand on term limits, stating that career politicians must be discouraged so that the state can stabilize its budget, provide education funding, and thrive more comfortably. She has pledged to limit herself to six years in Springfield, setting an example for other lawmakers in the Illinois General Assembly.
Additionally, she focused on a balanced budget, education and job creation. Focusing on the future, the incoming legislator stated via her website that she wants to end “the mass exodus of jobs and businesses” sparked by Illinois’ perilous financial status. She touted losing the red tape, encouraging a business-friendly climate, and growing Illinois’ tax base to regain prosperity.
"Illinoisans deserve a state government that cuts wasteful spending, balances its budget and lives within its means," she said.
Organizations in this Story