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Peter Fitzgerald

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A different Peter Fitzgerald is deputy police commissioner of the Irish police force (An Garda Síochána).
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Peter Fitzgerald

Peter G. Fitzgerald (born October 20, 1960) was the junior United States Senator from Illinois from 1999 until 2005. He is a member of the Republican Party. He previously served in the Illinois State Senate from 1992-98, where he was a member of the 'fab five' group of conservative state senators who often challenged the leadership of the Illinois Republican party. The group also included Steve Rauschenberger, Dave Syverson, Patrick O'Malley, and Chris Lauzen.

Born in Elgin, Illinois, Fitzgerald graduated from Portsmouth Abbey School, a Catholic boarding school on the shores of Rhode Island, in 1978, Dartmouth College in 1982, completed his post-graduate studies as a Rotary Scholar at Aristotelian University in Greece, and earned his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1986.

Fitzgerald defeated the well-known Democratic incumbent, Carol Moseley Braun in 1998, and served for one term in the Senate. He was the first Republican in Illinois to win a Senate race in 20 years, and the only Republican challenger in the country to defeat an incumbent Democratic senator in the 1998 election cycle. Fitzgerald is difficult to peg politically. Some consider him a conservative, pointing to his views on abortion and federal spending. He is also a maverick, and has been a close ally of Senator John McCain on a variety of issues in Washington. Fitzgerald has some views that are more liberal, particularly on environmental issues - he has opposed drilling in ANWR throughout his tenure in the US Senate.

Fitzgerald's legacy in the Senate will probably be his constant battling with the leadership of the Illinois Republican party. He insisted on the appointment of an out-of-state US attorney to investigate corruption in the Illinois state government, which led to a slew of indictments, including of former Republican Governor George Ryan, against whom charges are still pending. Fitzgerald declined to run for reelection largely because many Republican insiders who had failed to support him in his first run in 1998 had made it clear he would not have their support again, in what he knew would be a much tougher race.

Fitzgerald had two major moments in the spotlight in the US Senate, the first in 2000 when he filibustered a massive federal spending bill because it included funds for the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. He did it to bring light to the Republican-controlled Illinois state government's failure to promise competitive bidding for the project.

His second major moment was following the September 11th attacks, when congress quickly passed a massive bailout measure for most of the major US airlines which were in trouble financially. Standing alone out of all members of the US Senate, Fitzgerald delivered a speech entitled 'Who will bail out the American taxpayer,' arguing that the airlines would simply go through the money and remain financially unstable. Years later he has been proven correct, despite the bill passing 99-1.

He retired from the Senate at the end of his term; Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican Alan Keyes to take the open seat.


Preceded by:
Carol Moseley Braun
Class 3 U.S. Senator from Illinois
1999–2005
Succeeded by:
Barack Obama

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