Lane Evans

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Lane Evans
Lane Evans.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 17th district
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by George M. O'Brien
Succeeded by Phil Hare
Personal details
Born (1951-08-04) August 4, 1951 (age 63)
Rock Island, Illinois
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) single
Residence Rock Island, Illinois
Alma mater Augustana College, Georgetown University
Occupation attorney

Lane Allen Evans (born August 4, 1951) is a former Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from 1983 until 2007, representing the 17th District of Illinois. Evans announced that he would not seek reelection in November 2006 and retired at the end of the 109th Congress due to the increasingly debilitating effects of Parkinson's disease.

He was one of the 31 who voted in the House to not count the electoral votes from Ohio in the United States presidential election, 2004.[1]

Background[edit]

A native of Rock Island, Evans served in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, stationed in Okinawa. After leaving the Marines in 1971, Evans enrolled at Augustana College in Rock Island, graduating in 1974.[2] He earned a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University in 1978 and began a successful law practice in Rock Island serving children, the poor and working families.

In 1982, Evans ran for and won the Democratic nomination for Illinois' 17th District, which included most of Illinois' share of the Quad Cities area. It had been renumbered from the 19th District since Illinois lost two districts after the 1980 census. The district had been in Republican hands for all but two years since 1939. However, the brand of Republicanism that prevailed in the district had traditionally been a moderate one. Evans got a significant boost when 16-year incumbent Tom Railsback was defeated for renomination by a considerably more conservative Republican, State Senator Kenneth McMillan. Taking advantage of hardships from that year's recession, Evans won by just over 5 percentage points. He handily defeated McMillan in a 1984 rematch even in the midst of Ronald Reagan's gigantic landslide victory that year.

Evans faced almost no opposition in his next four campaigns, reflecting the growing influence of Moline and Rock Island in what had once been a very rural district. In 1994, however, Evans only won by nine points over an unknown Republican who spent almost no money. This emboldened the Republicans for 1996, when Evans faced Mark Baker, an anchor at WGEM-TV in Quincy (the third-largest city in the district). Even though Bill Clinton carried the district by a healthy 30,000 votes, Evans defeated Baker by only five percentage points. A 1998 rematch was even closer, with Evans only winning by 6,000 votes. A third run by Baker in 2000 saw Evans win by almost 10 points. Redistricting after the 2000 census made Evans much safer. Decatur and part of Springfield were added while some more rural areas were taken out. The redistricting process, guided by House Speaker and 14th District Congressman Dennis Hastert and 3rd District Congressman Bill Lipinski, solidified the holdings of many Illinois incumbents. Evans was re-elected in 2002 and 2004 by margins similar to those he scored in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Evans has battled Parkinson's disease since 1995. While his previous opponents, including Baker, didn't make an issue of it, his 2004 opponent, Andrea Zinga (a former anchorwoman at KWQC-TV and WQAD-TV in the Quad Cities) claimed he was not able to fully represent the members of his district due to his health concerns. However, this tactic backfired, and Evans won handily.

During his tenure, Evans was one of the most liberal members of the House, and probably Illinois' most liberal congressman from outside Chicago. A founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he had a near-perfect lifetime rating from Americans for Democratic Action, while the American Conservative Union gave him its lowest rating of any congressman outside Chicago. This would seem to be surprising, given that his district had a strong rural element. However, he had a reputation for strong constituent service. The 17th has a large number of Vietnam veterans who generally accepted his liberal social views due to his support for their interests. The Rock Island Arsenal is a major employer within the district. During his time in office, his support of the Arsenal helped keep it open while cuts were being made nationwide.

FEC actions[edit]

On June 27, 2005, Evans' campaign committee agreed to pay $185,000 to settle an investigation by the Federal Election Commission. The inquiry stemmed from allegations of illegal coordination between the 17th District Victory Fund, the Rock Island Democratic Central Committee and the congressman's campaign during the 1998 and 2000 election cycles.

"The FEC contended that the Evans Committee created the Victory Fund during the 1998 election cycle in order to assist with the Congressman’s reelection campaign. The Evans Committee then largely directed the Victory Fund’s operations during the 1998 and 2000 election cycles. During this period the Victory Fund raised and spent more than $500,000. Congressman Evans and his staff raised a majority of the money contributed to the Victory Fund, including more than $200,000 in labor union treasury funds, which are prohibited in federal campaigns.

The Victory Fund spent at least $330,000 on voter identification and get-out-the-vote activities promoting Congressman Evans. The FEC found that these campaign focused activities were so closely coordinated with the campaign that they represented contributions from the Victory Fund to Evans. The contributions exceeded federal limits and included funds from prohibited sources, in violation of FECA."[3]

The Rock Island Democratic Central Committee was also fined $30,000. The penalties were paid without any admission of guilt, but Federal Judge Billy McDade wrote in the settlement that Evans' personal culpability in the scheme was clear.

Retirement[edit]

Evans won the Democratic primary in 2006 and was poised for a rematch against Zinga. On March 28, 2006, Evans announced that he would not stand for a 13th term in November 2006. He made a brief return to Washington in June 2006. His withdrawal from the general election left local Democrats with the task of finding a replacement candidate in November. Their choice was Congressman Evans' District Director and endorsed successor, Phil Hare, who was elected in November.[4][5][6]

In 2007, Congressman Evans' papers and other materials were donated to the Archives and Special Collections Unit at Western Illinois University Libraries. They are currently being processed and will be made available to the public in the near future.

Electoral history[edit]

  • Election of November 2, 1982
  • Election of November 6, 1984
    • D. Lane Evans — 128,273 57%
    • R. Kenneth McMillan — 98,069 43%
  • Election of November 4, 1986
    • D. Lane Evans — 85,442 56%
    • R. Sam McHard — 68,101 44%
  • Election of November 8, 1988
  • Election of November 6, 1990
    • D. Lane Evans — 102,062 67%
    • R. Dan Lee — 51,380 33%
  • Election of November 3, 1992
  • Election of November 8, 1994
    • D. Lane Evans — 95,312 55%
    • R. Jim Anderson — 79,471 45%
  • Election of November 5, 1996
  • Election of November 3, 1998
    • D. Lane Evans — 100,128 52%
    • R. Mark W. Baker — 94,072 48%
  • Election of November 7, 2000
    • D. Lane Evans — 132,494 55%
    • R. Mark W. Baker — 108,853 45%
  • Election of November 5, 2002
  • Election of November 2, 2004
    • D. Lane Evans — 172,320 61%
    • R. Andrea Zinga — 111,680 39%

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
George M. O'Brien
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 17th congressional district

1983–2007
Succeeded by
Phil Hare