Peter Breen

By Mike Sandrolini

Lombardian staff reporter

Last November, Democratic District 48 State Rep. Terra Costa Howard unseated two-term Republican Peter Breen of Lombard in a race that saw Costa Howard garner over 53 percent of the vote.

However, Breen, announced Sept. 27 that he plans to challenge Costa Howard in the November, 2020 election with the hope of regaining his old seat.

In a recent interview with the Lombardian, Breen said he had no plans of getting back into elective politics anytime soon when he left office last January, but he began to change his mind within a few months of seeing legislation passed by the 101st General Assembly—in which Democrats have supermajorities in the state House and Senate—and signed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

“In the months after the new General Assembly took over, I started getting calls from the other (state) representatives that were still there (in Springfield) telling me about the terrible things that are going on,” Breen said. “Utter disregard for fiscal discipline. The attitude is ‘How much money do we and our special interest buddies spend,’ not what do the people actually need or afford?

“I started hearing this in March and April, and then at the end of May, you get a capital bill that spent $45 billion paid for entirely with borrowing and new taxes instead of the existing revenues that we had. It’s pretty much just an orgy of spending with no regard to the taxpayer.”

Breen said he reached the decision to run in 2020 a few weeks ago.

“The decision is one that (my wife) Margie and I made together because of our family,” he said. “We know that serving in the General Assembly is tough on a family, but ignoring the problems of Illinois is going to hurt every family.”

One of the major problems, he says, is taxation on Illinois families and the outmigration that’s taking place in the state.

“People are fleeing Illinois for a variety of reasons, but the biggest reason is financial—the tax burden on the people and the burden of government on Illinois businesses that’s holding our state economy back,” Breen said. “This is the worst time to put new taxes on Illinois families. I have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, and I’m looking at them and wondering if they are going to be able to have a life here in Illinois. I see so many of my friends and neighbors and their kids leaving or planning to leave.

“To me, these points are very simple and clear to everyone, but very few politicians are talking about this. When I was in the General Assembly, some legislators refused to believe that people are leaving Illinois.”

Additionally, Breen took Costa Howard to task, saying she is supporting powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan “and the corrupt establishment in Springfield,” as well as criticizing her support of Gov. Pritzker’s plan for a graduated income tax and her voting for what Breen calls “this bloated and over-budgeted $45 billion capital spending bill that forced a $300 per family tax hike on folks in our district.”

Voters will decide next November on a constitutional amendment that would change the state’s current income tax system from a flat tax to a graduated tax.

“I’ve been told by many, many people in this district that they feel betrayed by Terra Costa Howard,” Breen added. “The day she was sworn in, she voted for Mike Madigan. I heard from people who voted for her apologize to me, and they felt she had lied to them.”

On Monday, Costa Howard defended her work as District 48 state representative.

“As the elected state representative for the 48th District, I believe I have a moral obligation to give a voice to the people who live in our communities and stand up for their interests in Springfield,” Costa Howard said.

“Since taking office in January, I have hosted 16 community events to make sure my constituents have multiple opportunities to talk with me face-to-face, share their ideas, and let me know about the issues that matter most to their families.

“I’ve had individual meetings with more than 150 constituents and responded to literally thousands of phone calls and emails. Again and again, constituents tell me how much they appreciate having a state representative who is accessible and accountable to everyone.

“It is an honor to represent the people of this district and to advocate for their ideas and their values in the General Assembly. I am proud of what we are accomplishing together, and I look forward to talking with voters about my record of hard work on behalf of the people of the 48th District.”

Breen said he is currently in the process of gathering petition signatures and has received positive feedback from residents.

“We’re out walking already,” he said. “(While gathering signatures) one gentleman said he gave her (referring to Costa Howard) a chance in 2018, but he felt betrayed because of her support for Mike Madigan so he asked for a yard sign for me. I have had hundreds of people personally approach me and ask me to run again.”

Breen, who served in the state House from 2015-2019 and as the Floor Leader from 2017-2019, was—along with many other suburban Republicans in state and national races—swept out of office in 2018 by a Democratic blue wave in which the unpopularity of President Donald Trump was a factor.

In the 2018 election, Costa Howard received 53.5 percent of the vote, while Breen got 46.5 percent. Breen said 2018 was the worst election cycle for Republicans in DuPage County since 1932.

“One of the themes from the 2018 election that I heard at the door repeatedly was, ‘Peter, I don’t have a problem with you, but I’m not supporting any Republicans at this time because of Trump,’ ” Breen said. “I heard that over and over again.”

“In 2018, polling showed strong negatives for Trump,” Breen continued. “What you’re seeing in polling now isn’t necessarily positive, but the intensity of the dislike for the president has diminished. What you’re seeing is a move from the strongly unfavorable to the moderately unfavorable.”

Breen, who is vice president and senior council for the Thomas More Society, added that he is encouraged by polling going into the 2020 election which, he says, shows “we’re going to be very, very competitive from Day One.”

“We’ve been doing polling since about March,” Breen said. “When looking at a political race, it’s one thing to hear from people and it’s another thing to confirm what you’re hearing with scientific polling. You’re seeing a lot of discontent with Ms. Costa Howard, while folks are generally favorable about me.”

 

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