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56th District GOP rivals spring from split in party
By Eric Peterson | Daily Herald Staff

Anita Forte-Scott


Ryan Higgins


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Published: 12/30/2009 10:41 AM | Updated: 1/18/2010 8:41 PM

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The race for the Republican nomination for the 56th District state House seat is between a candidate who has won the endorsement of the local and state party and a candidate who had it two years ago.

Ryan Higgins, 28, is a health care attorney who relocated to Schaumburg in September 2008 and has already received the backing of Schaumburg Township Republican Committeeman Mike Adelizzi and Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross.

Anita Forte-Scott, 40, is the administrator of an early education and day-care facility in Elgin and a second-term trustee of the Schaumburg Township District Library. She is making her second run for state representative after being defeated in 2008 by Democrat Paul Froehlich.

Adelizzi and Cross, who endorsed her in 2008, are not endorsing her now.

Forte-Scott, meanwhile, is challenging Adelizzi for control of the Schaumburg Township Republican Organization.

Higgins characterizes Forte-Scott's actions as a personal split from the party. He said she has not taken any substantial support away from him.

He said even the couple of people who cast votes for the party to endorse her, out of past friendship and loyalty, are now squarely backing him. Higgins himself worked for Forte-Scott's 2008 campaign in its final months.

He feels the Republican establishment now recognizes him as the stronger candidate due largely to how Forte-Scott performed against Froehlich, who switched from the GOP to the Democratic Party before the 2008 election. Froehlich is not running for re-election.

Higgins believes Froehlich's victory was a result of his longtime support, rather than an indication that the 56th House District has turned Democratic.

Forte-Scott, meanwhile, believes she's the better representative of the district due to her lifelong residency and community involvement in Schaumburg itself.

"I don't know him very well," she said of her opponent. "I have a vested interest in the community, and that holds weight."

She said she is running without the party's endorsement this time as well as for township committeeman because she's come to recognize a need for reform in the party.

"I certainly learned a lot about the Tom Cross organization," Forte-Scott said. "I saw the good and the not-so-good with their organization."

She said she would give up her library seat if elected to the state house, but believes she could capably be both representative and committeeman - as Froehlich was before he switched his allegiance to the Democratic Party.

One liability during her 2008 campaign that's still with her is the tax liens on her business property in Elgin, totaling $43,487.90.

She said she is continuing to work on correcting the problem, but blamed the slowness of the Kane County government with why it's taking so long.

Higgins, who grew up in Palatine and graduated from Fremd, came to the GOP's attention with a series of speeches he gave in 2008 comparing Sen. John McCain's health care plans with then-Sen. Barack Obama's.

Adelizzi said Higgins' professional background as a health care attorney has less to do with his quality as a candidate than his overall intelligence and work ethic.

Higgins said his youth it gives him the freedom to vote his conscience rather than protect a legacy.

"I'm 28 years old and I'm not doing this for a state pension," Higgins said. "I'm doing it for the people."

The winner of the Feb. 2 primary will face Democrat Michelle Mussman in the November general election. Mussman has no primary challenger.

The 56th District includes Schaumburg and portions of Elk Grove Village, Palatine, Hoffman Estates, Rolling Meadows, Roselle, Hanover Park and Bloomingdale.