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Local News

Chamber leaders reflect on state, national politics

Ron Eidshaug, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's vice president for congressional and public affairs, speaks Wednesday to members of the Joliet Chamber of Commerce on the political implications in Washington, D.C.
Ron Eidshaug, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's vice president for congressional and public affairs, speaks Wednesday to members of the Joliet Chamber of Commerce on the political implications in Washington, D.C.

JOLIET – The governor’s race is too close to call, local U.S. representatives’ seats seem to be safe, and Americans like cockroaches more than they like Congress.

These statements were just a few made Wednesday by leaders of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as they discussed the current political landscape in Illinois and Washington, D.C., with Joliet-area business leaders.

Ron Eidshaug, the chamber’s vice president for congressional and public affairs, and Great Lakes Region Executive Director Ben Taylor spoke to business leaders at a Wednesday luncheon sponsored by the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry at the Joliet Country Club, 1009 Spencer Road.

They also talked about how local businesses can bring local perspective to Washington, D.C.

“We want those newer members of Congress to talk to their leadership and say, ‘I’m hearing from the business community in my district, in my state, and we need to start solving these issues,’ ” Eidshaug said. “That’s the impact you can have.”

Eidshaug urged businesses – from multimillion-dollar corporations to dry cleaner owners – to talk with the district offices of locally elected U.S. officials.

Eidshaug said the political spectrum changed over the past several years, because of increased partisanship, more focus on primaries and redistricting.

“Now, the middle is essentially gone,” he said, adding that a low level of discourse between the right and left has turned personal and hindered cooperation.

Eidshaug also said communication between Congress and President Barack Obama has waned due to Obama’s willingness to bypass Congress and go directly to the American people.

While Obama is an excellent campaigner who can drum up public support, Eidshaug said that has contributed to a lack of cooperation between the executive and legislative branches.

State of the races

Taylor provided a business perspective on the final stretch of races leading to Tuesday general election.

Locally, congressmen Bill Foster, D-Naperville, and Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, are expected to win comfortably. The governor’s race between Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner will be too close to call.

Taylor said it’s worth noting that Quinn, with a Democratic supermajority in the Illinois House and Senate, already could have raised the minimum wage. But instead, a non-binding question for the issue will be on the ballot.

Potential tax increases also are an issue specific to businesses.

While the numbers in Rauner’s tax plan have been questioned, Quinn has been dodgy on specifics of a tax increase, Taylor said.

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