Republicans struck pay dirt there in 1994 when political unknown Michael Flanagan upset veteran Democratic Rep. Dan Rostenkowski as part of the tidal wave that gave the GOP control of the House for the first time since 1955.
Now, Illinois' 5th Congressional District is being watched nationally as a bellwether for this year's battle for control of the House. A Democratic win in the 5th does not guarantee that the party will return to power in the House, but Democrats probably don't have much chance unless they defeat Flanagan, one of the few Republicans elected in a big-city district.
Though [Nancy] Kaszak started with a slight edge in the polls, a potential [Rod] Blagojevich advantage comes the old-fashioned way--he inherited it. His family ties didn't bring him money but something just as valuable in Chicago--a political organization. Blagojevich's father-in-law is Ald. Richard Mell, who also is the powerful Democratic committeeman in the 33rd Ward. With help from Mell, Mayor Richard Daley, and the other ward and township organizations in the 5th District, Blagojevich's campaign should be able to blanket the territory with precinct workers.