A tax lawyer could present state Rep. Jack Franks with his first GOP election challenger since 2010.
Steven Reick, a Greenwood Township Republican precinct committeeman, said he intends to run in the 63rd House District against the eight-term Democratic representative from Marengo. Franks, also a lawyer, has represented the district since January 1999.
Reick, who lives in rural Harvard, said he wants to give voters in the district a choice. The 63rd District covers most of northern and western McHenry County.
"I'm putting together a campaign, and I'm going to make as strong a run at this as I possibly can," Reick said Monday. "I understand what I'm up against with a guy who's as popular in the district as Jack is, but people need a choice, and I intend to give it to them."
Franks took advantage of Republican infighting and a bitter GOP primary to win the 1998 election by 138 votes. After narrowly fending off a 2000 attempt by Republicans to regain the seat, he won re-election by about 2-to-1 margins in 2002 and 2004. The only election since in which the GOP fielded a challenger was 2010; Franks won that by a similar margin.
Reick said he intends to focus on pension reform, taxes, Medicaid and education. He said Franks' votes for pension reform and against tax increases are negated by the fact that he joins fellow Democrats at the start of every General Assembly in re-electing Michael Madigan as House speaker.
"He knows that Madigan has enough people in his pocket to pass whatever he wants to without needing Jack's vote, so he can vote for Mike Madigan as speaker, wander off the reservation and be as populist as he wants," Reick said. "Nothing against him personally, but that one special interest he seems to be beholden to is one we can't afford to have anymore."
Franks' reputation as a fiscal conservative has hardened his political survivability in a county where Republicans reign supreme. He consistently votes against tax and fee increases and proposed state budgets, and in recent years has drawn the ire of local governments by fighting for legislation to curtail their ability to raise property taxes when home values fall.
Reick said his top priority if elected will be to make Illinois again friendly to job creation and growth.
"Everything that Springfield does has an effect on jobs, and jobs is the No. 1 issue facing our state," Reick said.
Reick, 60, has a wife, three children and four grandchildren.