Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D.-Ill.) turns 66 on May 26.
When the people of the Ninth District of Illinois first elected her in 1998, she was 54.
When the people of the Ninth District first elected Sidney R. Yates in 1948, he was only 39. By the time he left office, he was 89. Even after that, according to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.), Yates regretted leaving office. "I never should have left," Durbin said Yates told him, despite Yates' health problems preventing him from performing basic duties of his office. Like showing up for House votes.
I'm very concerned that Jan* considers her House seat a lifetime appointment and will run for re-election until she is well into her 80's, like her predecessor Sid Yates did. It's not supposed to be that way. Entrenched incumbents block entire generations of qualified candidates from stepping in and making their own contributions to their communities. Take Sen. Dick Durbin, please: by 2014, we will have had one occupant of his Senate seat for 18 years. As the Congresswoman is able to amass a multimillion-dollar campaign war chest, she can look at elections as minor distractions from her long-term reign.
This needs to stop. Even Jan's hardcore liberal supporters must realize entrenched incumbents get lazy, as Yates did. Electing a member of Generation X would further reduce the average age of House members (still too high) and show the country that in the Ninth District, to quote a former president, "The torch has been passed to a new generation."
*"Mrs. Schakowsky" is somewhat incorrect as Schakowsky is her first husband's name, not her husband's name. Her husband is convicted felon Robert Creamer.