32 lawmakers won't return to seats

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill (WAND)- It's the largest exodus in modern Illinois legislative history. 

A total of 32 lawmakers will be leaving their seats, of those only seven are leaving to run for a different office. 

"Members are very frustrated about the ability to really get anything done in this political environment." said Kent Redfield, Political Science Professor Emeritus at UIS. 

While there are many factors that are contributing to the exodus, the two year budget impasse, increased polarization from social media and national politics have many members looking to leave what some call "a poisonous atmosphere." 

"You have got people on the Democratic side who are saying, you know I can't get anything done in terms of policy and going forward is all bad news," said Redfield. "On the Republican side  you got people who are terribly frustrated  feeling like they are between a rock and a hard place between the governor and his ability and desire to kind of leverage a budget crisis versus their desire to get things done." 

"We always see an uptick in retirements, but there is more than usual but hopefully it doesn't lead to more polarization in the capitol." said Dan Kovats, Executive Director of the Illinois Democratic County Chairman's Association. "Hopefully it will result in new fresh ideas coming in and new elected officials that will be more accountable to the voters."

Redfield doesn't believe the 20 percent of legislative turnover will impact the atmosphere at the capitol, in fact, he believes big money that is being thrown in some legislative races will actually take away the voice of constituents. 

"It makes for a legislature that is less representative, they are less conscious of what their constituents want and they are paying more attention to where the big funders are so it hurts representation." said Redfield.

Democrats are hoping the exodus will go in their favor and help them regain the super majority in the House. Of the 32 leaving, 17 of them are Republicans and in districts that could swing back Democratic. 

"I think there is some definite opportunities for some pickups, the collar counties are going to be a definite battle ground where we are going to put a lot of energy and resources in but there are also some downstate areas where we want to target." said Kovats. 

While its still too early to tell what impact this will have on the General Assembly, political experts believe that the polarization in the state will only get worse.

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