ALTON, Ill. -- Illinois House Majority Leader Jim McPike of Alton has announced he won't seek re-election next year and will retire two years earlier than he had planned.
McPike announced his retirement Saturday at a meeting of Wood River Township precinct committeemen. He said he had made his decision to retire final while spending the Thanksgiving holiday with his family.
McPike, 50, is a Democrat who has served 18 years in the Illinois House, including the last 12 as majority leader. His position makse him the second-most powerful member of the House after Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago.
The lawmaker, who has three grown children, said a large factor in his decision was his desire to spend more time with his wife and his fourth child, who is 2 years old. He also cited frustration over the legislative deadlock between the House and the Illinois Senate, which is controlled by the Republicans.
McPike noted that most of the major projects he supported are nearly complete or have been funded, including replacement of the Clark Bridge across the Mississippi River at Alton and the construction of the Berm Highway into the city.
A former Navy jet fighter pilot, McPike worked as a sales engineer for the 3M Co. before beging elected to the House. He said he hadn't yet decided whether to seek another job in government, and was not ruling out running for some other elective office at a later date, but insisted he wouldn't be a candidate 'in the near future.'
McPike's decision apparently will help avert what might have been a bruising battle in next year's Democratic primary for the Illinois Senate from the 56th District. That seat currently is held by state Sen. Sam Vadalabene, D-Edwardsville, who has announced he is retiring because of poor health.
Madison County Clerk Evelyn Bowles is seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed Vadalabene. Earlier this year, Wood River Township Highway Commissioner Steve Davis also announced his intention to seek that nomination.
McPike said Davis now will drop out of the Senate race to run for McPike's 112th District House seat. The House majority leader said Bowles and Davis have agreed to support each other's campaigns, and McPike will support both of them.