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Illinois - 12th District

Incumbent -- Jerry F. Costello (D) ; Will retire at end of current term (announced Oct. 4, 2011)

Safe Democratic
Race Ratings Key

CQ Politics rates this race as "Safe," meaning the incumbent party is virtually certain to win the seat.


District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

The 12th begins in the St. Louis suburbs along the Mississippi River and extends south along the river to Cairo at the southern tip of Illinois, where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers converge.

East St. Louis, an overwhelmingly black city in St. Clair County, has experienced declining population and some of the state's worst urban blight for years, and crime rates remain high. Federal and state aid, along with revenue from casino gambling, provide income for the city, but residents still face high unemployment and poverty rates.

Other cities in the 12th also are attempting to overcome difficult economic situations. Alton is in the midst of a major revitalization aimed at providing jobs, growing industry and creating new tourism. The city, along with Clark Properties, converted the long-vacant Owens-Illinois Glass factory into usable office, warehouse and light industrial space. Belleville, largely dependent upon defense industry jobs, relies heavily on Scott Air Force Base, the area's major employer. Higher education remains one of the area's few steadfast employers, with Carbondale's Southern Illinois University, and its 20,000 students, bolstering Jackson County's economy.

The district's economic anxiety and minority population (blacks make up 18 percent) make it solid Democratic turf. St. Clair County has voted Democratic in the past nine presidential elections and gave Democrat Barack Obama his third-highest percentage statewide in the 2008 election. Despite only carrying St. Clair, Pulaski, Jackson and Alexander counties among the nine entirely in the 12th, Obama still captured 56 percent of the 12th's presidential vote that year.

Major Industry

Manufacturing, higher education, casinos, agriculture

Military Bases

Scott Air Force Base, 5,533 military, 5,085 civilian (2011)


Belleville, 44,478; Granite City, 29,849; O'Fallon, 28,281; Alton (pt.), 27,850; East St. Louis, 27,006; Carbondale, 25,902


Cahokia Mounds, a prehistoric civilization, was designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site in 1982; the Gateway Geyser, which stands at 600 feet, is a man-made fountain in East St. Louis.




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