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117 5. Clyde Choate’s Leadership Legacy Taking on the Income-Tax Challenge WhenPaulPowelltookoverassecretaryofstatein1965,hestepped away from a position of legislative authority, especially when it involved direct teamwork with Clyde Choate. The Anna representative hadservedloyally,and importantly,asPowell’sfloorleader,votecounter, and muscle—when needed. Finally, he was the House’s top Democrat. However, even with the change, Powell remained influential in policy making. He was no more than a telephone call away from Choate. It was not as if Powell had retired and moved to Florida. Choate inherited Powell’s downstate legislative followers, although there may have been a few who left the fold. Clyde Lee would soon move toChicago,wherehemanagedracetrackbusiness.Others,suchasSenator Crisenberry,whoheldhandswithPowellonmanyissues,hadretired.His replacementintheSenatewasJohnG.GilbertfromJacksonCounty,who servedfrom1961to1973,muchofthattimeontheeducationcommittee.1 His ties to Southern Illinois University (SIU) dated to his father, John P. Gilbert, who graduated from the college when it was Southern Illinois Normal College and served more than a decade as head of the school’s Department of Biology and Agriculture. The reign of Powell as Speaker ended with the 1961–62 session. Representative John W. Lewis Jr., a Republican from Clark County in east central Illinois, followed Powell in the post. At least Powell was assured 118 Clyde Choate’s Leadership Legacy that during his last two years in the House the Speaker was from downstate .Afteronesession,thespeakershipshiftedtoChicago,bringingwith it a dramatic change in policy and power. Chicago mayor Daley had tried to put his man in the Speaker position since his election in 1955. Powell had thwarted the mayor’s ambition, while allowing Chicago influence to grow in the House. Otherseriousshiftsinpowerwereonthehorizon.Foryearstheregional politicalbattlefocusedonthetug-of-warbetweenChicagoanddownstate. The1960censusrevealedthatChicagoandCookCountypopulationhad fallenby70,558since1950.2 Also,thecity’spercentageofstatepopulation dropped7percentto35.Downstatefigures,especiallyinsouthernIllinois, declined as well. The big gainers were the suburbs and collar counties of northeast Illinois, bringing into play a third major element in the political picture,especiallyasitrelatedtoreapportionmentoftheGeneralAssembly. Even with Powell in the House during the 1963 session, questions naturally arose about Choate. Could he inherit Powell’s role as lord of the House?Orevensomeofit?Weredownstate’sinterestsdoomedtoasecond (orthird)cousinstatus?Whatcoalitionscouldbeformedthatwouldbuild andmaintaininfluenceinthelegislature?AmeasureofChoate’sinfluence afterPowellwashismembershiponthelegislativebudgetarycommission. He had served with Powell on that powerful body. Strength of leadership, when it came to Powell and Choate, was always about money. As the last decade of Clyde Choate’s career in the House unfolded, most of those questions received answers, some more quickly than others .However,beforemuchcouldbedetermined,stategovernmentsettled into the matter of legislative reapportionment as dictated by the Illinois Constitution.TheprincipalplayersinthedramaweretheHouseandSenate , both controlled by Republicans, and the governorship, in the hands of Democrat Otto Kerner. Of course, Daley would play a key role. Thefalloutfordownstateregionswasofearthquakeproportions.After holdingoffChicagoandCookCountypowergrabsfordecades,downstate politicians had become the losers in reapportionment wars with Chicago and the suburbs. Their numbers were reduced, and the leadership role filled by Powell and Choate was lessened. If downstate Democrats and Republicans wanted something significant from the legislature, they had tobegorborrow.Strategicallyspeaking,Choateandhissmallknotofvotes would be increasingly on the defensive, using the remaining strength to Clyde Choate’s Leadership Legacy 119 water down the worst of proposals from Chicago and Springfield while maintaining SIU’s flow of appropriations. Choate would become pretty much a defensive player. Facing a constitutional deadline of June 30, 1963, the Republican-led legislature passed areapportionmentbill and sentittoKerner.Hevetoed thebill,sayinghefoundthatthedistrictscreatedbythebillwere“wanting in that degree of proportionality and fairness that I believe our Constitution intended.”3 Primarily, he objected because the bill did not deal fully with suburban issues. That meant in political terms that it did not deal with suburban issues to satisfy Daley. He wanted Cook County districts to cross county lines in the suburban areas controlled by Republicans. Almost immediately, various Republicans mounted legal challenges to Kerner’s veto, but none of them altered the outcome. The constitution called for Kerner to appoint a bipartisan ten-person commission to settle the issue, which he did. However, he did not appoint any members of the legislature and that angered Democrats and Republicans. Facing a December 31 deadline, the commission could not agree.4 Kerner then called for an at-large election for House members in 1964. Each party nominated 118 candidates to the 177-member House. The Democratic Party captured 118 seats, and the Republicans, 59. That became known as theinfamous“bedsheetballot,”withsomanynamesthat itcouldhardlybehandledbyanindividualinavotingboothorwhenvotes werecounted.BoostedbythelandslideelectionofLyndonB.Johnsonfor presidentoverRepublicanBarryGoldwater,Democratswonthebedsheet voteandautomaticallyheldtwo-thirdsofHousemembershipforthe1965 General Assemblysession.5 JohnTouhyofChicagobecameSpeaker.The Senate was not involved in the reapportionment mess, so Republicans maintained control. The chaos created by attempts at reapportionment continued into the 1965 session. Meanwhile the U.S. Supreme Court had issued its “oneman...


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