Like all 50 states, Illinois has three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. Legislative functions are granted to the Illinois General Assembly, composed of the 118-member Illinois House of Representatives and the 59-member Illinois Senate. The executive branch is led by the Governor of Illinois, but four other executive officials are separately elected by the people. The judiciary is composed of theSupreme Court of Illinois and the lower appellate and circuit courts.
Historically, Illinois was long a major swing state, with near-parity existing between the Republican and the Democratic parties. However, in recent elections, the Democratic Party has slowly gained ground, and Illinois has come to be seen as more of a "blue" state. Chicago and most of Cook County votes have long been strongly Democratic. In addition, Democratic voters have moved to the traditionally Republican "collar counties" (the suburbs surrounding Chicago's Cook County, Illinois), which are becoming increasingly diverse.
Republicans continue to prevail in rural northern and central Illinois; Republican support is strong in southern Illinois outside of the East St. Louis metropolitan area. Illinois has voted for Democratic presidential candidates in the last five elections. Barack Obama easily won the state's 21 electoral votes in 2008, by a margin of 25 percentage points with 61.9% of the vote. And though the Republicans' electoral performance in the 2010 mid-year elections marked some improvement, the trend in Illinois politics for the long term appears to be more blue than red.
History of corruption
Politics in the state, particularly those of the Chicago machine, have been famous for highly visible corruption cases, as well as for crusading reformers, such as governors Adlai Stevenson (D) and James R. Thompson (R). In 2006, former Governor George Ryan (R) was convicted of racketeering and bribery. In 2008, then-Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) was served with a criminal complaint on corruption charges, stemming from allegations that he conspired to sell the vacated Senate seat left by President Barack Obama (D) to the highest bidder. In the late 20th century, Congressman Dan Rostenkowski (D) was imprisoned for mail fraud; former governor and federal judge Otto Kerner, Jr. (D) was imprisoned for bribery; and State Auditor of Public Accounts (Comptroller) Orville Hodge (R) was imprisoned for embezzlement. In 1912, William Lorimer, the GOP boss of Chicago, was expelled from the U.S. Senate for bribery and in 1921, Governor Len Small (R) was found to have defrauded the state of a million dollars.
US Presidents from Illinois
Three presidents have claimed Illinois as their political base: Lincoln, Grant, and Obama. Lincoln was born in Kentucky, but moved to Illinois at the age of 21; he served in the General Assembly and represented the 7th congressional district in the US House of Representatives before his election as President. Ulysses S. Grant was born in Ohio and had a military career that precluded settling down, but on the eve of the Civil War, and approaching middle age, Grant moved to Illinois and thus claimed it as his home when running for President. Barack Obama was born and raised in Hawaii (other than a four year period of his childhood spent in Indonesia) and made Illinois his home and base after completing law school.
Only one person elected President of the United States was actually born in Illinois. Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico, raised in Dixon and educated at Eureka College. Reagan moved to Los Angeles as a young adult and later became Governor of California before being elected President.
Though never elected president, Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson, who was born and raised in central Illinois, was the Democratic nominee for president in 1952 and 1956.
Since the adoption of the United States Constitution in 1789, only six African-Americans have served as members of the United States Senate, and half of them represented Illinois: Carol Moseley-Braun, Barack Obama, and Roland Burris (2009–2010), who was appointed to replace Obama after his election to the presidency.
In 2000, Illinois was ranked 4th in the U.S. in the number of full-time sworn officers with 321 per 100,000 persons, behind Louisiana (415), New York (384), and New Jersey (345). In this ranking, only New York had a higher total population than Illinois. Illinois is also near the top of most law enforcement numbers lists, such as number of agencies per state, number of agencies with special jurisdictions, and number of local police agencies. Even taking into account that Illinois is the fifth most populous state, many of the ratios are higher than more populated states. There is much overlap in jurisdiction amongst the different law enforcement agencies.
At the state level, there are at least eleven law enforcement agencies. At the county level, there are sheriffs, forest preserve police and other specialized police forces. At the local level, most cities and many villages have municipal police forces, park district police forces, and even local specialized police forces. Many colleges also have their own campus police that are often sworn police officers.