MOLINE — Currently in his third two-year term in the Illinois General Assembly, State Rep. Mike Halpin (D-Rock Island) stood with local leaders, supporters and family at IBEW Local 145 Wednesday to announce his candidacy for the Illinois State Senate.
Halpin started his career in public service working in constituent services for the late Congressman Lane Evans and he was first elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 2016, winning re-election in 2018 and 2020. He’s now the Chairman of the Rock Island County Democratic Party.
“Constituent services is a core value of mine and it runs deep in the work I do,” Halpin said Wednesday, announcing his goal to succeed Sen. Neil Anderson (R-Andalusia) for the 36th District. “It’s been a guiding principle that I carry with me when I’m home in the district, helping people navigate renewing the driver’s license or their FOID card. It’s there when we help guide people through the unemployment insurance process, which has been more important than ever in the past year.”
“It’s what I carry with me when I’m in Springfield helping to protect Illinois workers, the health of our families, and the well-being of our kids. And I will continue to prioritize this work in the Senate,” Halpin said.
“I serve by promoting worker-friendly policies, supporting the working poor and to strengthen the middle class,” he said. “I want to hear from you, so I can be the best elected representative I can be.”
Halpin, 41, lives in Rock Island with his wife, MaryAnn, a health care worker, and their two children (Natalie, 9, and Will, 7), who attend Rock Island public schools. He earned his law degree from the University of Illinois and his bachelor’s degree from Roger Williams University.
He’s currently Chairman of the Personnel & Pensions Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee in the Illinois House. Wednesday, he noted many supporters asked that he consider running for Congress next year, to succeed U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline), who is leaving the House. She’s represented the 17th Congressional District since 2013.
“I was and I am extremely humbled by the suggestion,” Halpin said of possibly moving to Washington. “I seriously considered a campaign for Congress, and would have been honored to have the chance to serve where my mentor, Lane Evans, once did. However, I had to balance my public service with the needs of my young family. Right now, that means only being a short car trip away — staying here in Illinois and continuing my state legislative work and constituent services in Illinois.”
He promised to keep working people in the Quad-Cities at the forefront of his work in the state Senate, helping provide good, well-paying jobs in the area.
“We end corporate taxpayer-funded subsidies — instead, help local small businesses so they can compete and thrive,” Halpin said. “We protect our children by continuing to fund education, so they’re ready for tomorrow and the challenges of the future.”
He’s sponsored “rainy day” legislation in the House, to help ensure fiscal stability in the future, and he said his priorities will continue in the Senate.
“Mike Halpin’s understanding of people and what makes our community thrive has made him a successful State Representative, and that will only strengthen as he becomes a State Senator,” said Cory Bergfeld, business manager for IBEW Local 145.
His focus as a State Representative has been economic development, promoting good-paying, union jobs for men and women in the 72nd District, education and rebuilding our local infrastructure,” Bergfeld said. “Seven thousand members of the Tri-City Building Trades are proud to support Mike.”
Halpin said it was important to announce Wednesday at the IBEW Hall, supporting the area unions and the good jobs they help provide.
Before attending law school, he served as personal assistant for former Congressman Lane Evans (1951-2014), another Rock Island Democrat, between 2002 and 2005. Halpin said after his announcement that he learned “almost everything I know from him. His focus was on constituent service in addition to those big-ticket items. I took that to heart, in how can I help you as a constituent, what are the most important things for you today?”
“I always tell folks, if I can do half the job that Lane Evans did in constituent services, I’m gonna be OK,” he said. In the House, Halpin was elected under a Republican administration and the the legislature was at a budget impasse, with many agencies and nonprofits not being funded.
“To be able to help them on a day-to-day basis, make sure they got reimbursed, was very satisfying — even in the midst of a very difficult problem,” Halpin said. “We saw the same thing with the Covid crisis. It’s certainly been a struggle. Every industry, particularly the hospitality industry here in the Quad-Cities, and tourism, has been one of the hardest-hit. Fortunately, the state has tried to step up and provide small business grants, get people through tough times. It hasn’t been easy.”
Halpin has a Senate opportunity for the 36th District since Republican Neil Anderson, an Andalusia resident, was drawn out of that district in the initial redistricting maps — and that didn’t change in last week’s redraw.
Glen Evans, a Republican, declared his intent to run in August. Halpin has been Rock Island County Democratic Party chair since May, and as chairman, he can’t officially endorse any other candidates for office, such as Congress or his current seat.
He’s not sure if he’ll face a June 2022 primary challenge for the Senate seat. “I certainly welcome anyone who’s interested,” Halpin said. “I feel I’m the best candidate for this district, for western Illinois, but obviously I believe everyone has the right to pursue whatever they think is best for them.”