Peter Fitzgerald (politician)
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|United States Senator
January 6, 1999 – January 3, 2005
|Preceded by||Carol Moseley Braun|
|Succeeded by||Barack Obama|
|Illinois State Senator
from the 27th District
January 13, 1993 – November 16, 1998
|Preceded by||Virginia B. Macdonald|
|Succeeded by||Wendell E. Jones|
|Born||Peter Gosselin Fitzgerald
October 20, 1960
|Spouse(s)||C. Nina Fitzgerald|
|Alma mater||Dartmouth College
University of Michigan
Peter Gosselin Fitzgerald (born October 20, 1960) is a former United States Senator from Illinois. He served from 1999 to 2005. He is a member of the Republican Party (GOP). He previously served in the Illinois State Senate from 1992 to 1998, where he was a member of the 'Fab Five' group of conservatives who often challenged the leadership of the Illinois GOP. The group also included Steve Rauschenberger, Dave Syverson, Patrick O'Malley, and Chris Lauzen.
Born in Illinois, Fitzgerald graduated from Portsmouth Abbey School, a Catholic boarding school on the shores of Rhode Island, in 1978 and from Dartmouth College in 1982. He completed his post-graduate studies as a Rotary Scholar at Aristotelian University in Greece, and earned his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1986.
Fitzgerald's family has been continuously involved in commercial banking since the mid-1940s. His father, Gerald, built Suburban Bancorp, a chain of suburban banks, by aggressively founding and buying banks around the Chicago suburbs, which he sold in 1994 to a subsidiary of the Bank of Montreal for $246 million.
After a hard-fought primary victory against Illinois Comptroller Loleta Didrickson, in which the latter had the support of most national and state-level Republican leaders, Fitzgerald defeated first-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun in 1998, and served for one term in the U.S. Senate. He was the first Republican in Illinois to win a U.S. Senate race in 20 years, and the only Republican challenger in the country to defeat an incumbent Democratic senator in the 1998 election cycle. Even though Moseley Braun was dogged by negative publicity of corruption charges, Fitzgerald defeated her by only 2.9%.
Fitzgerald is a staunch conservative on some issues, such as being opposed to abortion (except to save the life of the mother), gun control, gay marriage and taxes, but on some issues, particularly environmental issues — he opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge throughout his tenure in the US Senate — he broke with conservative colleagues. He was also notable as one of only a handful of GOP Senators to support the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation.
Throughout his tenure in the Senate, Fitzgerald battled with the state Republican Party leadership. He insisted on the appointment of an out-of-state US attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald (who is unrelated), to investigate corruption in the Illinois state government. Illinois later had several indictments, including that of former Republican Governor George Ryan, who has since been convicted of several criminal abuses of authority, and Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted of attempting to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.
Fitzgerald declined to run for reelection largely because many Republican insiders who had failed to support him in his first run in 1998 had made it clear he would not have their support again, in what he knew would be a much tougher race. In 2009, conservative journalist John Fund wrote that, "Sen. Fitzgerald also labeled an Illinois congressional delegation 'wish list' of $600 million in projects being submitted to President Bush as a 'mega-hog letter.' 'The mere fact that a project is located somewhere within the state of Illinois does not mean that it is inherently meritorious,' he wrote speaker Hastert. In turn, Hastert called such criticism 'grandstanding.' ... The senator accused GOP governor George Ryan, now serving a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence on a corruption conviction, of opposing competitive bidding rules so he could dole money to political allies. 'I want Illinois to get a $150 million (Abraham Lincoln) library, not a $50 million library that just happens to cost $150 million,' he told fellow senators."
Controversial opposition to 9-11 airline bailout
Fitzgerald had two major moments in the spotlight in the Senate, the first in 2000 when he filibustered a massive federal spending bill because it included funds for the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. He did it to bring to light the Republican-controlled Illinois state government's failure to promise competitive bidding for the project.
His second major moment was following the September 11, 2001 attacks, when Congress quickly passed a massive bailout measure for most of the major airlines, which were in trouble financially. Standing alone out of all members of the U.S. Senate, Fitzgerald delivered a speech entitled "Who will bail out the American taxpayer," arguing that the airlines would simply go through the money and remain financially unstable. The bill passed 99 to 1.
Citing problems dealing with the state party leadership and family issues, Fitzgerald retired from the Senate at the end of his first and only term. He was succeeded by Barack Obama, who went on to be elected President of the United States. Fitzgerald is the only U.S. Senator to succeed and be succeeded by African American senators.
Fitzgerald is Chairman of Chain Bridge Bank, N.A. in McLean, Virginia. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, which is a museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.
- 1998 Republican Primary - U.S. Senate
- Peter Fitzgerald (R), 51.83%
- Loleta Didrickson (R), 48.17%
- 1998 General Election - U.S. Senate
- Peter Fitzgerald (R), 50.35%
- Carol Moseley Braun (D) (inc.), 47.44%
- "Fitzgerald: Rove tried to limit choice". Chicago Tribune. 2007-03-14. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
- Fund, John (March 2009). "LaHood's Neighborhood". The American Spectator (Arlington, Virginia): 60–61. More than one of
- Chain Bridge Bank, N.A.
- "National Constitution Center, Board of Trustees". National Constitution Center Web Site. National Constitution Center. 2010-07-26. Archived from the original on 2010-07-26. Retrieved 2010-07-27.
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Voting record at The Washington Post
- Federal Election Commission — Peter G Fitzgerald campaign finance reports and data
- New York Times — Topics: Peter G. Fitzgerald collected news and commentary
- On the Issues — Peter Fitzgerald issue positions and quotes
- OpenSecrets.org — Peter G. Fitzgerald campaign contributions
Virginia B. Macdonald
|Illinois State Senator from 27th district
January 13, 1993 – November 16, 1998
Wendell E. Jones
|United States Senate|
Carol Moseley Braun
|United States Senator (Class 3) from Illinois
January 6, 1999 – January 3, 2005
Served alongside: Richard Durbin
|Party political offices|
|Republican Party nominee for United States Senator from Illinois
|Youngest Member of the United States Senate
John E. Sununu