Phil Hare

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Phil Hare
Phil Hare Official.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 17th district
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Lane Evans
Succeeded by Bobby Schilling
Personal details
Born (1949-02-21) February 21, 1949 (age 66)
Galesburg, Illinois
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Rebecca Hare
Children Amy Hare
Louis Hare
Residence Rock Island, Illinois
Alma mater Black Hawk College
Occupation political assistant, union leader
Religion Roman Catholic
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army Reserves
Years of service 1969–1975

Philip G. "Phil" Hare (born February 21, 1949) is a former U.S. Representative for Illinois's 17th congressional district, serving from 2007 until 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district was based in Illinois's share of the Quad Cities area and included Rock Island, Moline, Quincy, Decatur, Galesburg and part of Springfield.

Early life, education, and early political career[edit]

Hare was born in Galesburg but grew up in Rock Island. He graduated from Alleman High School in 1967. The son of a machinist, Hare went to work at Seaford Clothing Factory in Rock Island, where he stayed for 13 years. He received his A.A. degree at Black Hawk College in Moline, Illinois. While working there Hare served as a union leader and was President of UNITE HERE Local 617. He served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1969 to 1975.[1]

Hare began his political career in 1980 when he ran as an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention in support of the presidential candidacy of Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. He was one of six candidates running for alternate delegate but the three Kennedy delegates were defeated by the three candidates supporting President Jimmy Carter.

Working for Lane Evans[edit]

In 1982 Hare left his union position to help his friend Lane Evans, who was running for the U.S. House of Representatives in an attempt to unseat 16-year incumbent Republican Tom Railsback. Hare first met Evans in 1976 when the two were volunteers in U.S. Senator Fred R. Harris's campaign for president. Railsback was upset by conservative State Senator Kenneth McMillan in the Republican primary, and Evans defeated McMillan in November, and appointed Hare as district director.

For the next 24 years Hare worked as an aide to Evans, assisting the congressman primarily on constituent issues and labor problems. In the last few years of Evans's time in Congress, Hare attended several speaking engagements and even debated Evans's opponents in 2002 and 2004 because of the congressman's Parkinson's disease, which often prevented Evans from participating.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



Evans decided to retire in March 2006 and Hare announced his candidacy shortly afterward. In a special Democratic caucus of precinct committee members from across the 17th Congressional District, Hare received his former boss's endorsement and prevailed over the four other candidates to replace Evans as the Democratic nominee. In the November election Hare defeated his Republican opponent, Andrea Zinga, with 57% of the vote.


Hare ran unopposed in 2008.


Hare was challenged by Republican nominee Bobby Schilling and Green Party nominee Roger K. Davis. The race was rated a tossup by the Cook Political Report, CQ Politics, and the New York Times.[2][3][4] By October, RealClearPolitics rated it "Leans Republican".[5]

In the November 2 election, Schilling defeated Hare 53%-42%. Hare lost his home county, the normally solidly Democratic Rock Island County, by 9 percentage points.


Hare's voting record was generally liberal, mirroring that of his former boss, Evans. Hare is also a founding member of the LGBT Equality Caucus[6][7] and was a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which Evans was a founding member.

Health care

Hare has been an advocate for health-care reform since becoming a congressman on Memorial Day, May 29, 2006.[8] During the summer of 2009, Hare took a hard-line stance on a public health insurance option, saying, "I will not support any plan that does not contain a robust public option because a plan without a public option is sort of like a car without a motor. It may look good on the outside, but in the end it will get you nowhere."[9] After many local health care town halls and public polling, Hare backed off of his support of the public option. Hare has said he ultimately supports a public option but that "It [the public option] is not a deal-breaker."[10]


Hare is a supporter of organized labor, including the living wage and the Employee Free Choice Act.[11]


Hare has consistently supported access to and funding for contraception, as well as keeping most methods of abortion legal.[12] He has received the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice America.[13]


At an April 2010 town hall meeting, Hare stated on camera, "I don't worry about the Constitution on this to be honest," in relation to Congressional health-care reform efforts.[14] The cameraman, who was affiliated with the St. Louis Tea Party, was heard to say "jackpot, brother!" after Hare said this, to which Hare responded, "Oh, please." Hare's communications director, Tim Schlittner, later explained that Hare's quote was "taken out of context" and he meant that "he is not worried about this health care law being ruled unconstitutional."[15] However in the same interview, Hare said, "I believe it (the Constitution) says 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'" When it was pointed out to him that was actually from the Declaration of Independence, Hare said, "It doesn't matter to me."[16]

Phil Hare has been accused of distorting his military service. Mr. Hare, who served in the Army Reserves in the United States during the Vietnam War, claims to be a Vietnam veteran even though, legally, he is not. By federal law Hare's military service does not make of him a "veteran" of the Vietnam War because he had never served in Vietnam. When challenged about his military record by an actual Vietnam vet, Mr. Hare demanded to know the identity of the man. When the vet refused to give his name Mr. Hare reportedly told an aide to follow the man to his car and get his license plate number so he could find out who the man was. According to the vet, "As Mr. Hare was turning to walk away form me he paused, and turning back to my direction, he glared at me intently, and while leaning forward pointed his finger at me, and in a threatening and intimidating manner said, "I'll find out who you are!" Given the nature of Illinois politics, and Mr. Hare's reputation as a mean politician, I felt intimidated by the power of Mr. Hare's office and what he might do." [17]

Committee assignments[edit]

Election history[edit]

  • Nomination of precinct committeepersons U.S. House 2006
  • Election of November 7, 2006 for U.S. House Dist. 17
    • Phil Hare (D) — 114,638 — 57%
    • Andrea Zinga (R) — 85,734 — 43%
  • Election of November 4, 2008 for U.S. House Dist. 17
    • Phil Hare (D) —- 220,961—99.77%
    • Mark E. Lioen—517—0.23%

Personal life[edit]

Hare and his wife Beckie currently live in Rock Island and have two grown children, Amy and Louis.

Hare appeared on the March 15, 2007 episode of The Colbert Report in the show's "Better Know a District" series.[18]


  1. ^ Tibbetts, Ed (2010-06-14). "Rep. Phil Hare in battle over one word: Veteran". Quad City Times. Retrieved 2010-10-20. U.S. Rep. Phil Hare’s use of the word “veteran” to describe his military service has angered some local military veterans who say he’s improperly taking on the title. 
  2. ^ Illinois 17th District Profile (NYT)
  3. ^ CQ Politics IL-17
  4. ^ Cook Political Report Upgrades IL-17 to Toss Up
  5. ^ RealClearPolitics IL-17
  6. ^ "LGBT Equality Caucus | House Members Form LGBT Equality Caucus". 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  7. ^ "LGBT Equality Caucus | Home". Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  8. ^ "IL District 17 - Democratic Candidate Appointment Race - May 29, 2006". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  9. ^ “”. "Phil Hare Takes the Pledge". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  10. ^ "Hare talks health care at annual luncheon". 2009-10-06. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  11. ^ "Congressman Phil Hare : Hare News Clips : Dispatch-Argus: Hare will take prominent role in debate on pro-unions bill". 2007-03-01. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  12. ^ "Phil Hare on the Issues". Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  13. ^ "Winning Pro-Choice Candidates". Archived from the original on July 7, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  14. ^ Congressman: 'I Don’t Worry About the Constitution' on Health Care Overhaul. April 2, 2010.
  15. ^ "Hare Communications Director Issues Statement on Constitution Comment in Quincy". April 2, 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2010.
  16. ^ Video on YouTube
  17. ^ "Warner Todd Huston, Publius Forum, june 8, 2010"
  18. ^ "Better Know a District - Illinois' 17th - Phil Hare | March 15, 2007 - Ayaan Hirsi Ali". 2007-03-15. Retrieved 2010-07-12. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Lane Evans
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 17th congressional district

Succeeded by
Bobby Schilling