Shunned by the figurehead of his own party, Democratic state Sen. Michael Hastings faces his first general election challenger since winning his first term a decade ago.

Hastings ran unopposed in this past June’s Democratic primary for the 19th Senate and next month faces Patrick Sheehan, who ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

Sheehan, of Lockport, is a police officer in Plainfield and also serves on the Lockport Township Park Board.

Neither candidate responded to multiple requests for interviews to discuss the campaign.

The Senate job pays a base salary of just under $73,000. The redrawn district includes all or parts of Country Club Hills, Frankfort, Homer Glen, Matteson, Mokena, New Lenox, Orland Hills and Tinley Park.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker last month called on Hastings to give up his Senate seat, after Hastings had stepped down from an unpaid leadership position but retained the chairmanship of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee.

Michael Hastings

Hastings, a West Point graduate and veteran of the Iraq War, first took office in 2013 and ran unopposed in the 2020 election as well as in the 2016 election after defeating a primary contender.

The last time Hastings faced an opponent in a general election was in 2012, when he defeated Republican Edgar Montalvo.

Hastings is involved in a divorce proceeding which has brought a lawsuit by him alleging authorities released personal information that he claims has been damaging to his campaign for reelection.

Hastings is seeking records from Frankfort and Will County regarding who may have accessed a June 20, 2021, police report in which his wife alleged that Hastings was verbally abusive toward her and had, several months earlier, battered her at the Frankfort home they shared.

Hastings alleges that someone in the Frankfort department or Will County released “a fabricated police report with false claims” of domestic abuse.

Frankfort police previously denied a Chicago Tribune request for documents related to the alleged incident at the home, citing exemptions from releasing records in cases where no arrest was made and saying the release “would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

The Facebook page for Hasting’s campaign describes him as a single parent of two children.

Pritzker’s call for Hastings to depart the Senate came as the governor asked Sen. Emil Jones III to also step down after Jones was indicted for allegedly accepting a bribe. Jones has pleaded innocent to the charge.

Hastings, in response to Pritzker, had said he looked forward “to continuing to serve the best interests of the hardworking men and women of the south suburbs.”

Hastings has received strong union endorsements, including significant campaign contributions from organized labor.

He is a proponent of the Workers’ Rights Amendment, the constitutional amendment that would codify that employees throughout Illinois have a right to “organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours, and working conditions, and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work.”

The amendment would also prohibit any law that “interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively.”

During the second quarter, Hasting’s campaign recorded more than $79,000 in contributions and transfers into campaign coffers, according to state board of election documents.

His campaign reported, at the end of the April-June quarter, cash available to spend totaling nearly $634,000.

In recent weeks, the campaign also has recorded tens of thousands of dollars in donations coming from organized labor, Chicago-area lawyers, energy companies and real estate political organizations, campaign filings show.

Patrick Sheehan

Sheehan’s campaign, at the end of the April-June quarter, showed donations of nearly $30,000 and just under $18,000 in cash on hand.

In recent weeks, however, campaign disclosures show more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind contributions flowing to his campaign, much of it from Illinois GOP organizations.

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According to his campaign website, Sheehan was born and reared in Chicago’s Beverly community and is the son of a Chicago police officer.

On the issues, Sheehan says that repealing the SAFE-T Act is a top priority, noting that the law in its current form will “make life harder for law enforcement” and that it has prompted his colleagues in law enforcement to opt for early retirement.

“Crime has been on the rise at an exponential rate, and the idea that this law offers any improvement to the rampant crime spreading throughout our state goes against all common sense,” he states on the website.

He says on the campaign website that inflation, such as the high cost of gasoline, has been another concern he has heard from voters.

Sheehan says he would reduce Illinois’ tax on gasoline and that, as the state moves toward green energy, it “must focus on nuclear power as a reliable, long-term, green energy solution.”

Sheehan and his wife have five children, ages 5 to 15, according to his campaign website.

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