Dillard, Nybo to square off in Republican Senate primary
Updated: March 24, 2012 8:17AM
The March 20 Republican primary for state senator in the newly-drawn 24th District includes an incumbent who says his opponent has never finished a term he has started and a challenger who says the incumbent has been in office long enough.
Incumbent Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale is being challenged by state Rep. Chris Nybo, R-41st, of Elmhurst in the Republican primary.
“There is an important distinction between us,” Dillard said. “His reputation is one of volatility and opportunism. He has never served out a term for anything. The man has blind ambition.”
Nybo said he served about four years in the Elmhurst City Council and left that position only to become a state representative. He said he will have completed his term as a state representative before moving on to the state senate, if he is elected.
“The problem with Sen. Dillard is that he thinks as a Springfield person thinks; a feeling of entitlement. He thinks of this as his district. I have the willingness to be independent.”
Nybo said he has a specific reason for choosing to run against Dillard after new legislative maps were drawn following the 2010 Census. The new boundaries cut off the western part of the district, which used to include Naperville, moved the northern boundary to include Elmhurst and extended the district west into Western Springs.
“I got squeezed in a redistricting quandary,” Nybo said. “On Mother’s Day, (Sen. John) Cullerton, the Democratic president of the Senate, called Sen. Dillard and asked him how he’d like to represent Elmhurst.
“That’s just a reflection of how corrupt things are. I’m choosing to run against the one who had a special deal done for him. It’s time for new people and new energy.”
Dillard said Nybo’s claim of a deal is false.
“I was called by the president of the Senate as were other Republican senators,” he said. “I had absolutely no input on the drafting of my district. I was asked, ‘you’re OK with Elmhurst?’ as a rhetorical question.”
While Nybo believes Dillard has been in Springfield long enough, Dillard views his tenure in state government as a strength. He was first elected to the Senate in 1994 and before that served for three years as chief of staff to Gov. Jim Edgar.
“There are serious problems facing Illinois, and it takes a serious legislator to deal with this,” Dillard said. “I have a unique background in public service in this state, with experience that is unparalleled, at least on the Republican side. When I’ve been in charge, I’ve have led well, and even as a minority I have a unique ability to stop things a freshman like Mr. Nybo wouldn’t be able to do.”
Both Dillard and Nybo agree that pension obligations are a huge problem in Illinois. Dillard said he plans to do whatever he can to stop state legislators from pushing the pension obligations off to suburban property taxpayers.
“Mike Madigan wants to put the pension problem on suburban municipalities,” Dillard said. “I’m not going to let Chicago Democrats push unfunded pensions onto suburban property taxpayers.”
Nybo said Dillard is late with his response about unfunded pensions.
“He’s been there for 20 years,” Nybo said. “We should have seen that coming a mile away, but he’s never taken a bold position. Sen. Dillard doesn’t suggest any alternatives to anything; he only tells you what he won’t do.”
Nybo has been very outspoken about being in favor of term limits for state legislators, something about which Dillard doesn’t agree.
“He looks for popular populist ideas to get elected,” Dillard said. “I support recall, which is a quicker and more efficient way of getting rid of bad legislators.”
Nybo said being a state legislator shouldn’t be a career for anyone.
“If you are elected, you should go and serve and then go back into private life,” he said. “You don’t have to be a 20-year legislator; you can only stay that long by cutting deals with lobbyists.
“You need to listen to constituents, pay attention to detail and be ready to jump into hard work.”
The winner of the primary will face A. Ghani of Oak Brook in the November election. Ghani is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.