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Updated Oct. 14, 2010
Hare is facing his first tough election against Moline pizzeria owner Bobby Schilling.
Hare was unopposed in 2008, two years after he was elected to succeed his old boss, then-Rep. Lane Evans (D). But Hare's path to Congress reeked of Chicago-style politics, even though this western downstate district is nowhere near the Windy City. Evans announced his retirement after he won the primary, so party officials chose Hare, Evans' district director, to replace him on the ballot.
Now, Hare is in for a real race. While he has benefited in the past from his union ties, Schilling neutralizes them with his own experience as a union steward. Both candidates oppose free-trade agreements.
Schilling was promoted to the top tier of the NRCC's Young Guns program in mid-September and has gotten support from other Republicans and GOP groups, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the National Rifle Association political action committee.
This district is more closely divided than it looked in the past couple of election cycles. Though President Barack Obama won it with 56 percent of the vote in 2008, Sen. John Kerry only got 51 percent of the vote there in 2004.
This race has developed very quickly since Hare was hardly on the radar screen of political handicappers just two months ago. It should only get more interesting in the final month.
District Profile from Politics in America
The 17th is one of the state's most expansive districts. Winding over nine full counties and parts of 14 others, it hugs much of the border along the Mississippi River and reaches its tentacle-like arms past Springfield as far inland as Decatur. The 17th includes rich farmland along the Mississippi, as well as Rock Island and Moline -- Illinois' half of the industrial Quad Cities that straddle the river across from Iowa.
Moline, whose overall population has decreased since 2000 even as its Hispanic population has grown, is a retail hub. The John Deere Commons -- with historical exhibits, shopping, dining and lodging --revitalized the city's downtown.
Corn, soybeans and hogs fuel most of the rest of the 17th's economy, and even the industrial sector here, which is dominated by John Deere and Archer Daniels Midland, depends on agriculture. Economic downturns have hurt agriculture-dependent economies and family farm profits, but the Rock Island Arsenal remains a major area employer.
A long-time Democratic tilt has given way to highly competitive national and statewide races. Springfield and Decatur no longer overcome GOP tendencies in rural areas and new Republican strength in Rock Island.
Farm equipment manufacturing, agriculture, defense, food processing
Rock Island Arsenal (Army), 374 military, 4,868 civilian (2011)
Decatur (pt.), 53,454; Moline, 43,483; Quincy, 40,633; Rock Island, 39,018
Moline is known as the "Farm Implement Capital of the World."
|2010||general||Bobby Schilling (R)||104,583||52.6%|
|Phil Hare (D)||85,454||43%|
|Roger Davis (GREEN)||8,861||4.5%|
|2008||general||Phil Hare (D)||220,961||99.8%|
|2006||general||Phil Hare (D)||115,025||57.2%|
|Andrea Zinga (R)||86,161||42.8%|
|2004||general||Lane Evans (D)||172,320||60.7%|
|Andrea Zinga (R)||111,680||39.3%|
|2002||general||Lane Evans (D)||127,093||62.4%|
|Peter Calderone (R)||76,519||37.6%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 56%||John McCain: 42%|
|2004||John Kerry: 51%||George W. Bush: 48%|
|2000||Al Gore: 53%||George W. Bush: 43%|