Rep. Don Manzullo (R)
Illinois 16th District
The far northwest corner of Illinois is one of the heartlands of the Republican Party. In the town square of Freeport, some 15,000 people came to hear Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in one of their seven debates in 1858. Settled by New England Yankees, northern Illinois was one of the strongest Republican constituencies in 1860 and for years after. Not far away, on a little river once navigable by Mississippi River steamboats, is Galena, one of the earliest settlements in northern Illinois and the home of Ulysses S. Grant. Once larger than Chicago, Galena is now a tourist attraction. The second largest city in Illinois is Rockford, on the Rock River, settled by Swedes as well as Yankees and one of America’s leading furniture manufacturers at one time. It is the nation’s leading manufacturer of fasteners, and there is a big Chrysler plant a few miles east in Belvidere. But the city’s manufacturing base steadily declined after World War II, and by the 1980s, Rockford had a serious unemployment problem. It has rebounded in recent years as it has moved aggressively toward becoming a center for professional services and high technology.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 16th Congressional District of Illinois consists of much of the northwest part of the state. It includes the hilly, almost mountainous country around Galena and the Mississippi River, and the flatter plains in the farming counties to the east and south. The fastest-growing part of the district is in the east, in McHenry County and in Boone and Winnebago counties, three of the fastest-growing counties in Illinois in recent years. Politically, northern Illinois, perhaps in stubborn opposition to Democratic Chicago, remained steadfastly Republican for many years. It backed Herbert Hoover in 1932, Barry Goldwater in 1964, and George H. W. Bush in 1992 when the rest of Illinois was going the other way. But in recent years, the trend has reversed. In 2004, George W. Bush ran far behind his father’s 1988 percentages in metro Chicago and in almost every one of the state’s northern counties. In 2008, Barack Obama won 8 of the 9 counties in this district, winning 53% of the vote.
Rep. Don Manzullo (R)
Elected: 1992, 9th term.
Born: March 24, 1944, Rockford .
Education: American U., B.A. 1967, Marquette U., J.D. 1970.
Family: Married (Freda); 3 children.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1970–92; author.
The congressman from the 16th District is Donald Manzullo, a Republican first elected in 1992. He grew up in Rockford, where his father ran a grocery store and Manzullo’s Famous Italian Restaurant, from 1953 until it closed in 2004. While in college in Washington in the mid-1960s, Manzullo worked for Republican candidates and then practiced law in Illinois. For 20 years, he was a small-town lawyer in Oregon, Ill. He hosted a radio talk show for a while and wrote books on constitutional law. An ardent social conservative and passionate abortion-rights foe, Manzullo early in his career started the Northern Illinois Crisis Pregnancy Center. Later, he and his wife, a microbiologist, home-schooled their three children until the eighth grade, then sent them to a Christian high school. Manzullo ran for Congress in 1990 and lost the primary to a moderate Republican. Democrat John Cox won the seat, but was weakened when heavily Republican McHenry County was added during redistricting. Two years later, Manzullo ran again and, with support from conservative Christians, beat a moderate Republican in the primary, 56%-44%. In the general election, Cox campaigned for higher taxes; Manzullo for a 10% across-the-board income tax cut. Manzullo won with 56% of the vote. He has not been seriously challenged for re-election since.
|Don Manzullo (R)||190,039||(61%)||($1,346,244)|
|Robert Abboud (D)||112,648||(36%)||($501,317)|
|Scott Summers (Green)||9,533||(3%)||($5,027)|
|Don Manzullo (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (64%), 2004 (69%), 2002 (71%), 2000 (67%), 1998 (100%), 1996 (60%), 1994 (71%), 1992 (56%)
Manzullo has a generally conservative voting record. He sponsored a law in 1998 requiring federally funded family-planning clinics to report evidence of child abuse and molestation. He has said that his proudest legislative achievement was helping to pass the 2001 law ordering the Veterans Administration to recognize Gulf War syndrome. Manzullo came to Congress as a market conservative and a strong supporter of free trade, and he supported the North American Free Trade Agreement and normalizing trade relations with China. He criticized the Bush administration’s imposition of steel tariffs in 2002 and cited the impact on Rockford manufacturers. He worked to exclude products like tool-grade steel from the tariffs. But he has been dismayed by local job losses in manufacturing—some 13,000 in the Rockford area since 2000—which he attributes to Chinese competition, some of it in violation of international trade rules. He has worked to encourage a revival of manufacturing in America and has called for tax cuts for businesses that create jobs in the United States, an end to Chinese currency manipulation and enforcement of Buy American laws.
From 2001 to 2006, Manzullo was chairman of the Small Business Committee. He went to war with the Bush administration over funding cuts for the Small Business Administration and its guaranteed-loan program for small businesses. When the White House insisted on funding the program with higher fees on borrowers and lenders, Manzullo in 2004 got the House to add $79 million to the SBA budget. In 2005, when the SBA was criticized for not processing loans to Katrina victims rapidly enough, Manzullo defended the agency. In 2003 and 2004, he led a rebellion against the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Republican Bill Thomas of California. Forging a coalition of Democrats and lawmakers from heavy-manufacturing districts, Manzullo denied Thomas a majority on a corporate tax bill that Thomas favored until he agreed to more than $75 billion in tax incentives for manufacturers and small businesses. In 2006, Manzullo sponsored bills to allow small-business owners to deduct health care costs from their federal taxes.
Term limits forced Manzullo to give up the Small Business Committee gavel in 2007. He has since focused on his work on the Foreign Affairs Committee, where he is the top Republican on the Asia Subcommittee. That perch allows him to stay involved on U.S.-China trade issues. He also has a seat on the Financial Services Committee, where he has worked recently to try to accelerate tax breaks for domestic manufacturers. He was one of 32 House Republicans who voted for the bailout of the Big Three automakers in December 2008, after urging the companies to purchase U.S.-made supplies. In August 2008, Manzullo joined with other House conservatives in briefly occupying the House floor after Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveled the House into recess without calling a vote on new domestic oil drilling and production. The group was protesting the absence of action on the issue as energy prices soared and also what they called strong-arm tactics by Pelosi.
On issues back home, Manzullo helped secure $12 million for Rockford’s EIGERlab, a city-state-university center for the study of advanced manufacturing technologies like micromachining. It opened in 2004 in Rockford. With Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois he secured over $40 million for construction of a new federal courthouse in Rockford.