James Philip

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James "Pate" Philip
President of the Illinois Senate
In office
January 1993 (1993-January) – January 2003 (2003-January)
Preceded by Philip J. Rock
Succeeded by Emil Jones Jr.
Member of the Illinois Senate
from the 23rd district
40th district (1975-1983)
In office
January 1975 (1975-January) – January 2003 (2003-January)
Preceded by Jack T. Knuepfer
Succeeded by Ray Soden
Personal details
Born (1930-05-26) May 26, 1930 (age 88)
Elmhurst, Illinois
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Nancy Philip
Children Four Children
Residence Wood Dale, Illinois
Alma mater Kansas State College
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1950-1953

James "Pate" Philip (born May 26, 1930), is an American politician from Wood Dale, Illinois. A longtime Republican member of the Illinois General Assembly, Philip served both the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate including a decade as the President of the Illinois Senate.[1] He was known as a highly influential politician, both for the projects that he passed and blocked in state government and for his often-blunt comments. Richard S. Williamson, Ronald Reagan's chief of intergovernmental affairs who served as Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, deemed Pate "one of the most important Republicans in the Midwest".[2]


Philip was born on May 26, 1930 in Elmhurst, Illinois. Philip is a United States Marine Corps veteran and served from 1950 to 1953. He was a district sales manager for Pepperidge Farm for 38 years and retired in 1992. He is married to Nancy and they have four children.[3][4] James "Pate" Philip State Park, located in DuPage County, is named after Philip.[5] Philip received a heart bypass at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital in June 2004.[6] Philip's stepson Randy Ramey was appointed to the Illinois House in 2005.

Philip was drafted into the United States Marine Corps at the onset of the Korean War, though he was not deployed overseas.[7]

Legislative career[edit]

Philip was chosen as the Illinois Senate Minority Leader in 1981 after the death of Dr. David C. Shapiro. Philip had been the assistant minority leader since 1979.[8] In January 1993, after the Republicans gained a majority in the Illinois Senate, he was elected the Illinois Senate Majority Leader and remained in that role until 2003 when Democrats became the majority. He retired shortly after his unopposed reelection and was replaced by Ray Soden.[9]

Chicago school reform[edit]

Philip's oft-repeated pronunciations that giving more money to the Chicago public school systems would be like "pouring money down a rat-hole" helped provide the impetus for what Philip has said is one of his most important accomplishments—instituting a series of reforms that removed power from school boards rife with corruption. The major beneficiary of these reforms was Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, who with Chief Executive Officer of Schools Paul Vallas removed previous money-wasting reformers from their posts and closed a $1.4 billion deficit over four years without the need to request more state funding.[10][citation needed] The legislative reforms also challenged the long-standing assertion from Philip's opponents (notably, the Chicago Teachers Union) that Philip harbored a strong dislike for Chicago and its school system.[11]

Lake Calumet Airport[edit]

In 1990, Mayor Richard M. Daley, announced his proposal for the Lake Calumet Airport, which would have resulted in the demolition of the Hegewisch, Burnham and Calumet City. The airport faced staunch opposition from Hegewisch residents.[12][13] Philip opposed the Lake Calumet Airport, believing an airport in Peotone, then regarded as an alternate site, would be better suited for an airport. He also opposed the state government paying $2 billion of the airport's costs. In the face of this opposition, Daley declared the airport proposal "dead" and focused on plans to expand O'Hare International Airport.[14][15]

Criminal Justice[edit]

Philip's legislative stances on crime have been mixed. With backing from the gun lobby representing downstate hunters, Philip fought to reduce the penalty for illegal possession of firearms to a misdemeanor.[16] However, he also fought to expand the death penalty to apply to all convicted murderers. The proposed legislation he endorsed also proposed mandatory 10–year prison sentences with no chance of parole for using firearms in a "safe retail zone", defined as shopping malls, strip malls and commercial districts with more than three stores. Philip expressed a preference for expanding this portion of the law to all gun-related crimes, not just safe retail zones. State's attorneys in the six-county Chicago metropolitan area agreed with Philip's stance on gun crimes, but were mixed with regards to changes in the death penalty.[17]

DuPage Tollway[edit]

In June 1984, Philip, then the Republican minority leader of the Illinois House of Representatives, helped push through legislation authorizing the construction of a tollway, Interstate 355, then referred to as simply the DuPage Tollway.[18]


Philip has also been known for making numerous controversial comments on various topics throughout his career. Many, including former Illinois gubernatorial candidate Dawn Clark Netsch, labeled him as both holding and vocally expressing racial prejudice. However, Philip himself has said that he is not racist, saying "When you criticize minorities, whether you're right or wrong, their reaction is it's a racist remark."[19]

During the corruption trial of former Gov. George Ryan's top aide Scott Fawell, "Pate" Philip was called as a witness. Prosecutors asked about Philip's 50 year high school reunion—a 1999 $15,000 bash at Navy Pier set up by Scott Fawell. Philip said he never asked for any special treatment, but was happily surprised by it. It was only after the Chicago Sun-Times revealed the party that Philip paid for it out of his campaign fund.

"You had a freebie didn't you?", asked prosecutor Pat Collins.

"It would appear that way," said Philip.[20]

Also during the trial, prosecuters released a document including ten pages of favors granted to former Senate President Pate Philip.[21]

Philip spoke with Larry Hall, who wore a hidden recorder and taped the conversations as a part of an undercover government investigation. Philip agreed to try to get Hall's sister a job with the secretary of state's office in exchange for Hall's fundraising activities. Prosecutors allege Hall gave $1,400 to Philip's campaign shortly after the conversation.[22]

Philip has been criticized for looking into the voter histories of students applying for legislative scholarships, which are funded by the taxpayers of Illinois. In 2001, all five of Philip's scholarships went to Republican primary voters or to students whose parents voted Republican, and the same trend was observed over the prior five years.[23]

Philip, with backing from the gun lobby, fought to reduce the penalty for illegal possession of firearms to a misdemeanor.[24]

Electoral history[edit]

  • 2002 Race for Illinois Senate — 23rd district
    • Unopposed
  • 1998 Race for Illinois Senate — 23rd district
    • James "Pate" Philip (R), 31,347
    • Rita Gonzalez (D), 13,961[25]
  • 1994 Race for Illinois Senate — 23rd district
    • Defeated Keith Petropoulos (D)
  • 1990 Race for Illinois Senate — 23rd district
    • Defeated William C. Kaiser (D)


  1. ^ Illinois General Assembly (2007). "Senator James Pate Philip (R)". Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  2. ^ Neal, Steve (1990-01-19). "Few are neutral about GOP leader Philip". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  3. ^ 2002 Illinois Blue Book. Senate President.
  4. ^ Pate Philip Illinois' new Senate president in the limelight by Jennifer Halperin March 1993 Illinois Issues
  5. ^ Forest Preserve District of DuPage County - James 'Pate' Philip State Park
  6. ^ "Former state Senate president recovering after bypass surgery" Daily Herald. Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, June 22, 2004.
  7. ^ Philip, James (May 9, 2011). "James 'Pate' Philip, Illinois Statecraft, ISL-A-L-2011-014" (PDF) (Interview). Interviewed by Mark R. DePue. Springfield, Illinois: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Retrieved July 21, 2017. 
  8. ^ Daily Herald. Chicago, Illinois. Sunday, October 9, 1988. Page 102.
  9. ^ "Soden sworn in". The Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL). 2003-04-27. 
  10. ^ Dold, R. Bruce (1995-08-18). "It's too late to cry over spilled milk - it may be hard for Democrats to swallow, but Republican legislators deserve the credit for cleaning up the mess in Chicago schools. Turns out Professor Pate took everyone to school". Archived from the original on August 4, 2009. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  11. ^ Pearson, Rick (1993-11-16). "Philip at head of the class in school deal". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on August 4, 2009. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  12. ^ Shnay, Jerry (February 12, 1992). "New Airport Isn`t Hegewisch`s Wish". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  13. ^ Sampson, Robert J. (June 1, 2013). Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226733883. 
  14. ^ Ibata, David (March 16, 1992). "Philip sets collision course on airport deals". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  15. ^ Washburn, Gary (August 6, 1992). "Study flunks Calumet airport High costs may explain Daley retreat". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. 
  16. ^ McKinney, Dave (1999-12-11). "Ryan, Philip at odds over gun-law penalty". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  17. ^ Carr, Rebecca (1993-02-04). "Senate president plans legislation allowing execution in all murders". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  18. ^ Chicago Tribune (1985-01-29). "Sox, DuPage batting stadium idea around". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-01-11. 
  19. ^ Patterson, John (2002-12-06). "What will Philip's legacy be? Some say state senator will be known for his blunt comments". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  20. ^ Former state Senate president takes the stand by Paul Meincke ABC7Chicago
  21. ^ Document of political favors released at Fawell trial by Paul Meincke ABC7Chicago
  22. ^ Former Illinois Senate President Testifies in Fawell Trial by Michelle Meyer March 5, 2003 Medill News Service
  23. ^ Pat Quinn says Pate Phillip may be bending the rules by Jeff Fischer October 30, 2002 Medill News Service
  24. ^ "Ryan, Philip at odds over gun-law penalty" by Dave McKinney December 11, 1999 Chicago Sun-Times
  25. ^ Illinois State Board of Elections

Preceded by
Philip J. Rock (D-Oak Park)
President of the Illinois Senate
1993 – 2003
Succeeded by
Emil Jones (D-Chicago)
Preceded by
David C. Shapiro (R-Amboy)
Minority Leader of the Illinois Senate
1981 – 1993
Succeeded by
Emil Jones (D-Chicago)
Preceded by
Timothy F. Degnan (D-Chicago)
Districts renumbered
Member of the Illinois Senate from the 23rd district
1983 – 2003
Succeeded by
Ray Soden (R-Wood Dale)
Preceded by
Jack T. Knuepfer (R-Elmhurst)
Member of the Illinois Senate from the 40th district
1975 – 1983
Succeeded by
Aldo DeAngelis (R-Olympia Fields)
Districts renumbered