The Rockford Files

If You Can’t Beat ’Em . . .

While Rockford, as I wrote last month, is becoming increasingly Democratic, Winnebago County, in which Rockford lies, remains fairly strongly Republican.  Despite the massive growth of the City of Rockford over the last two-and-a-half decades (it now pushes all the way to the Boone County border on the east and occupies over 60 square miles, over a third again as much space as Milwaukee, which has approximately four times the population), Winnebago County remains largely rural and “underpopulated.”  Farmers and small-town merchants (or the descendants thereof), most non-Rockfordian citizens of Winnebago County firmly occupy Red State America.

Thus, it is no surprise that 19 of the 28 members of the Winnebago County Board are Republicans.  Their dominance is even greater than the numbers suggest.  Winnebago County is divided into 14 board districts, and each district has two representatives.  The Republicans control eight of the fourteen outright; the Democrats, three; and three are split between the parties.

Because Winnebago County is more Republican than Rockford proper, some politicians who have failed to win office in the city in recent years—such as W. Timothy Simms, the Republican candidate for mayor in April 1997—have sought greener pastures in county-board elections.  (Elected in 2002, Simms is a board member for District 14 and the Republican majority leader.) ...

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