Although many Illinois Republicans have seen the redrawn congressional maps as an outrage, the president of in New Lenox sees an opportunity.
Under the new map, which , Chicago Democratic stalwart Bobby Rush's 1st Congressional District extends through the south suburbs to Elwood. But Hickey President Donald Peloquin, who is also the Republican mayor of Blue Island, said he's considering a run against Rush.
"The new mapping puts about 15 towns in the district now, and I probably know 10 of the mayors pretty well," Peloquin said. "I think there's a real opportunity for us to work together and this district is prime to be developed and create more jobs."
Peloquin anticipates he'll decide whether to enter the race by Labor Day. In the meantime, he's discussing the opportunity with his family and his business partners at Hickey.
The mayor describes himself as a moderate conservative, and though he acknowledges a battle with 18-year incumbent Rush would be difficult, he believes the map presents an opportunity now that the district would extend into the more conservative Lincoln-Way area.
But he could be stuck in the middle; Blue Island is in Cook County, and Peloquin also said he can't identify with extreme conservatives and Tea Party members, whose numbers are more prevalent in Will County.
As mayor, he's raised taxes to "keep a ring town to Chicago viable." He touts other accomplishments, including the conversion of an old landfill to a golf course, and also pulling together a team to keep St. Francis Hospital from closing. The hospital was purchased and renamed MetroSouth Medical Center.
Peloquin said his focus would be on transportation in the Southland, looking at more railway opportunities and increasing development along Interstate 57, near Interstates 80 and 294, creating and training for jobs along the way.
With funeral homes in Blue Island, Midlothian and New Lenox, Peloquin said his reach across the Southland could benefit him more than Rush, who Republicans believe will have a hard time reaching voters here.
But Rush spokeswoman Renee Ferguson said the congressman is concerned with important issues in the suburbs, for example meeting with area leaders Thursday in Frankfort to discuss pipeline leakages.
"When people get to know (Rush), they’ll see he has a lot of Republicans who really like him because he delivers," Ferguson said.
New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann, who briefly declared candidacy for Congress in 2008 before dropping out, said there's no chance he would consider vying for the 1st District.
"If there’s a number lower than zero put (the odds) at that," he said. "I’m very content being the mayor of New Lenox and staying here with my family."