Michael Flanagan (American politician)

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Michael Flanagan
Michael Patrick Flanagan.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 1997
Preceded byDan Rostenkowski
Succeeded byRod Blagojevich
Personal details
Michael Patrick Flanagan

(1962-11-09) November 9, 1962 (age 60)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationLoyola University Chicago (BA, JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1984–1988
RankUS military captain's rank.gif Captain

Michael Patrick Flanagan (born November 9, 1962) is a former captain in the United States Army, a practicing attorney, and a Republican Party politician from Chicago, Illinois.

Flanagan is best known for his victory over eighteen-term Congressman Ways and Means Committee chairman Dan Rostenkowski in the 1994 United States midterm elections.[1] His was one of fifty-four Republican victories in the House of Representatives that allowed the party to take control of both houses of Congress, as part of the Republican Revolution.

Early life and education[edit]

Flanagan was born in Chicago, Illinois on November 9, 1962, the second of five sons in a family of Irish-descent.[1][2] He graduated from Lane Technical High School, and he earned a B.A. from Loyola University in 1984 and a J.D. from Loyola University School of Law in 1988.[2] He served in the United States Army as a field artillery officer from 1984 to 1988 (at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, and at Fort Benning in Georgia[citation needed]), and 1991 to 1992 (during the Gulf War), achieving the rank of captain.[2]

Flanagan was admitted to the Illinois State Bar Association in 1991.[2]

Political career[edit]

Flanagan was elected to represent the fifth district of Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994, defeating 18-term Congressman and former Ways and Means Committee chairman Dan Rostenkowski, becoming the first Republican to represent a significant portion of Chicago since 1975 and the first to represent this district since 1909. Rostenkowski was under indictment during the election.[3][4]

The election result was a considerable upset, considering that Flanagan was, according to the Chicago Tribune, "a political neophyte who was underfunded, understaffed and unknown."[1] Due to his victory, Flanagan earned the nicknames of "the accidental congressman" and "the Rosty-slayer."[1]

During his tenure in the Congress, Flanagan served on the House Judiciary Committee, the House Government Reform Committee, and the Joint Committee on Telecommunications. He had a conservative record in the House,[5] opposing abortion and gun control,[3] while supporting the death penalty.[3] He also condemned then-President Clinton's national healthcare plan for its government takeover of the healthcare system.[3]

While the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune both endorsed Flanagan for reelection in 1996[citation needed], he was regarded as a heavy underdog against the Democratic challenger, State Representative Rod Blagojevich, being a conservative Republican in a strongly Democratic district. Before Flanagan's election, the district and its predecessors had been in Democratic hands for all but one year since 1909. As expected, the district reverted to form; Blagojevich soundly defeated Flanagan, and Bill Clinton easily carried the district. Flanagan's loss was one of the 12 seats first-term Republican candidates lost in the 1996 election. Proving just how Democratic this district was and still is, no Republican has tallied more than 35 percent of the vote since Flanagan left office. As of 2022, he is the last Republican to represent a significant part of Chicago in the U.S. House.

Electoral history[edit]

Year Office Winning Candidate Party Pct Opponent Party Pct
1994 U.S. House Michael Flanagan Republican 54% Dan Rostenkowski (inc.) Democrat 46%
1996 U.S. House Rod Blagojevich Democrat 64% Michael Flanagan (inc.) Republican 36%

Post-congressional career[edit]

Flanagan moved to Washington D.C. in 1999 and is currently the president of Flanagan Consulting LLC.[1][6] He has been active in Illinois Boys State since 1979.[7] Flanagan worked in Iraq for two years for the U.S. State Department, as part of team sent to help set up democratic institutions in the country.[1]


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

  1. ^ a b c d e f Schmich, Mary (November 9, 2014). "20 Years Later, a Talk With Chicago's 'Accidental Congressman'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "FLANAGAN, Michael P.". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Langer, Adam (October 27, 1994). "Running Against Rosty". Chicago Reader. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  4. ^ GOP Targets Dem 'Scandal Babies', by Will Schultz, Time.com, July 8, 2008. Accessed August 30, 2008.
  5. ^ "The Democrats Who Voted No | the New York Observer". The New York Observer. Archived from the original on November 17, 2009. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  6. ^ Flanagan Consulting, LLC: Michael P. Flanagan Archived 2007-07-03 at the Wayback Machine, Flanagan Consulting LLP. Accessed August 30, 2008.
  7. ^ 2008 Illinois Boys State Yearbook

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 5th congressional district

January 3, 1995 – January 3, 1997
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative