Retirement lessons state’s clout



WASHINGTON (AP)—Illinois’ congressional clout suffered another blow Monday with Rep. Bob Michel’s decision to retire after his current term.

Retirement, redistricting and rejection by voters sidelined seven lawmakers last year, including four with at least a decade of service. Reapportionment cost Illinois two House seats.

Illinois’ most powerful lawmaker, Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, remains—precariously. The chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee is under federal investigation for stamp purchases from the House Post Office.

Michel, R-Peoria, leaves the job of House minority leader he has held since 1981.

‘‘In the heavyweights, in the senior members, we are going to be relatively light. We’ve taken major casualties there,’‘ said Jack Van Der Slik, director of the Illinois Legislative Studies Center and professor of political studies at Sangamon State in Springfield, Ill.

Many delegation members do not bring ‘‘the same institutional memory, the same contacts or the same expertise’‘ as Michel, said Rep. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield. ‘‘The rest of us who remain will have to work harder.’‘

Michel had the clout to ‘‘call somebody and the problem would be averted,’‘ said former congressman and Agriculture Secretary Ed Madigan.

Analysts and Illinois officials credit Michel and Rostenkowski, D-Chicago, for helping persuade President Clinton to change the flood relief formula so the federal government would pay a greater share than first announced.

‘‘The bridges that Bob Michel has built to people like Rostenkowski and others will be lost,’‘ said William Hall, professor of political science at Bradley University.

With Michel’s departure, the delegation will have undergone drastic changes.

Among those gone are Sen. Alan Dixon, chief deputy majority whip in the Senate; Rep. Frank Annunzio, ranked 13th in seniority in the House; and Rep. Marty Russo, who served on the Ways and Means Committee.

But analysts says the large turnover in the House in 1992 makes the move ahead easier, and they cite several current members as up-and-comers: Durbin, Rep. John Porter, R-Winnetka; Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Yorkville; and Rep. William Lipinski, D-Chicago.

Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Bensenville, already heads the GOP Policy Committee in the House and Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., could become a committee chairman with a few changes in the Senate.

‘‘I guess it’s important that we not make this a requiem because there are some young aggressive people there and Paul Simon should be a very influential guy with the Clinton administration, and some other members of the delegation are gaining some seniority and stature,’‘ Madigan said.

‘‘So it isn’t like it’s the end of the world.’‘