WASHINGTON — In three big Illinois House races where Republican incumbents are at risk, the Trump White House is stepping in to help, with the latest move Ivanka Trump’s Wednesday tour of a community college welding program with Rep. Rodney Davis.
The Illinois Republicans in a battle to keep their seats, Davis and Rep. Michael Bost, from downstate districts and Rep. Peter Roskam who represents the Chicago suburbs, have all gotten a Trump White House boost.
Though Hillary Clinton beat Trump in Illinois in 2016, 55.4 percent to 39.4 percent, when it comes to analyzing House races, you have to look at the whole state of Illinois to see where the votes came from.
Clinton won mainly because of an outpouring of votes from the population heavy precincts in and around Chicago, suburban Cook and the collar counties.
Trump dominated in almost every central, southern and northwest Illinois county, with a few exceptions.
Roskam and GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner, who are looking for suburban votes, have to keep their distance from Trump while at the same time not alienate his supporters, whose votes they need.
Ivanka, a senior adviser to her father, President Donald Trump, will be visiting the Lewis and Clark Community College campus in Godfrey, an Illinois village not far from the Mississippi River, about 35 miles from St. Louis.
The White House said it is an official visit to highlight Trump’s workforce portfolio.
But don’t be fooled.
With the November midterms looming, where Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Ivanka are deployed – it’s no accident.
Democratics need to pick up 23 seats to win control of the House.
Impeachment proceedings begin in the House. Trump’s agenda and his presidency is at risk if the GOP looses the House.
*On Wednesday, Ivanka, with Davis in his 13th Congressional District, checks out the welding facility at Lewis and Clark and takes part in a roundtable with Davis and others talking about workforce development, an initiative in her portfolio.
“We want to highlight this facility as one of those that has a great program that the nation should take a look at,” Jessica Ditto, deputy director for communications in the White House told Illinois and Missouri reporters in a phone briefing.
“But as far as any political implications, this is an official visit, and it is something that is part of our commitment that private sector companies are making to the president’s pledge to the American worker.”
The district is home to community colleges and universities.
“Ivanka is a great surrogate for that district,” Eric Elk, a Republican operative, told me. “I think she is young enough to appeal to many of the college students in that district. I think she is also potentially moderate enough to appeal to some Independents.”
Davis faces Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. Last week, former President Barack Obama left Londrigan off his first priority list of contenders he will help.
Obama will boost Sean Casten, facing Roskam in the 6th Congressional District; Brendan, challenging Bost in the 12th District; and Lauren Underwood, running against Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., in the 14th District which covers a swatch of Chicago suburbs. The Trump team has not yet made a Hultgren play.
*On July 26, Trump made his first visit to Illinois as president to tour the United States Steel Corp. in Granite City, not far from St. Louis. Ivanka and Bost were among those on Air Force One.
U.S. Steel credited Trump’s tariffs on imported steel for the reopening of blast furnaces, closed since 2015, with about 800 new jobs to be created by October.
At the top of his speech Trump said, “We’re also joined by the three true friends of American steelworkers: Representative Mike Bost, Rodney Davis and John Shimkus. Fellas, thank you very much. They fight for you.”
Shimkus holds a safe downstate seat.
*On July 19, Pence hosted a fund-raiser in O’Fallon, Ill., for Bost.
*On July 13, in Rosemont, Pence headlined a fundraiser for Roskam, who remained in Washington and did not attend. Clinton won Roskam’s district in 2016. Rauner introduced Pence later at his official speech.
In Granite City, Trump said, “Honey, say a few words. Please. “
Ivanka said, “Wow. It’s great to be here in Illinois. One thing I can tell you is that this President and this administration loves its steelworkers.”
And on Wednesday, add the welders.