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Franks to run again for 63rd district

State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, put to rest any rumors of a congressional run Wednesday by announcing his intent to run for re-election to the 63rd District.

First elected in November 1998, Franks said he intends to seek another two-year term in the Illinois House representing the district, which covers much of McHenry County.

His decision to pursue another state term, rather than run in the newly redrawn 14th Congressional District, he said, came after a lot of thought.

“I believe that I can be more effective for the citizens of McHenry County in a leadership position in the [Illinois] House,” Franks said. “As public officials, we have a responsibility to do what’s best for our constituents.”

Under a congressional redistricting map approved by Springfield Democrats and signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, the 14th would include most of McHenry County and parts of the remaining collar counties, Kendall and DeKalb counties.

Franks said he did not doubt that he could have won the 14th District. But besides losing seniority that he said benefits the county, Franks said the hyper-partisan atmosphere in Washington would prevent him from accomplishing much, especially as a freshman in Congress.

“I’m a bipartisan person. I don’t look at people’s party affiliation – all I look at is what’s best for our county. Unfortunately, the atmosphere in Washington is so polarized, if you work with the other side, you’re demonized,” Franks said.

Franks’ voting record has earned him a reputation as a fiscal hawk who staunchly supports cutting state and local government, balancing and shrinking government budgets, and tax reform. He often works in tandem with local Rep. Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, and Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, to advance legislation.

The 63rd District will change little in 2012 under post-census redistricting, except for losing Spring Grove to the relocated 64th District. The redistricting map, which is facing a court challenge from Springfield Republicans, divides McHenry County among five Illinois House districts instead of the current three.

Franks’ high profile as one of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s earliest and loudest critics put him in the spotlight as a potential gubernatorial candidate after Blagojevich’s impeachment and ouster in 2009.

Although Franks had been a longtime political ally of Quinn during his years as lieutenant governor, the relationship has soured somewhat over what Franks calls Quinn’s inability to make hard financial choices.

“I feel like a lion tamer with our governor sometimes when it comes to spending,” Franks said.

If re-elected, Franks said his top priority is to grow the economy and make Illinois more business and taxpayer friendly. He said he wants to reverse the 67 percent income tax increase on residents and 46 percent increase on businesses that took effect this year. Also important to Franks is shrinking government and making it more transparent and accountable.

In the House, Franks is chairman of the State Government Administration Committee, and the International Trade and Commerce Committee.

Franks is not ruling out a run for higher office in the future, but said that his focus right now is local.

“I’m not sure that going to Congress is an upgrade, quite frankly. I think I could get much more completed in the statehouse. My record speaks for itself,” Franks said.

Franks was the last of McHenry County’s current state legislators to announce their candidacies. Tryon, Althoff, Sen. Dan Duffy, R-Lake Barrington, and newly appointed Rep. Kent Gaffney, R-Lake Barrington, have announced their General Assembly campaigns.

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