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Illinois: Democrat Rep. Evans to Retire

Twelve-term Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.) will announce his retirement from Congress today, making him the eleventh Democrat to pass on running for reelection in the fall.

Evans's decision is not terribly surprising given that he has become increasingly limited by Parkinson's disease over the past few years. By bowing out after becoming the party's nominee (Illinois's congressional primaries were last Tuesday), Evans leaves his successor to be chosen by Democratic Party leaders in the 17th District.

Initial reports were that Republicans could not replace their nominee -- former television anchor Andrea Zinga -- unless she decided to leave the ballot voluntarily. Zinga ran against Evans in 2004, making a major issue out of his health. She spent $271,000 and received just 39 percent of the vote.

Regardless of whether Zinga remains on the ballot, national Republicans are likely to play here. The district has hosted a number of bruising battles over the years. Evans faced down and defeated another former television anchor -- Mark Baker -- three times, winning with 52 percent in 1996 and 1998 and a more convincing 55 percent in 2000.

On its face, the district appears to be moving toward Republicans. In 2000 Al Gore carried it by ten points; four years later John Kerry won by only three percent.

To date, 28 House members have decided not to seek reelection.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 28, 2006; 1:29 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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