Senator Steven M. Landek (D)

In a move that surprised no one, State Senator Steve Landek (D-Bridgeview), 66, withdrew from his race for reelection on Wednesday. Landek’s withdrawal from the race had been expected ever since his close associate Mike Porfirio filed to run for Landek’s senate seat on March 14, the last day that candidates could file to run in the June 28 primary.

Landek, who also serves as the mayor of the Village of Bridgeview, had filed to run for reelection to the Senate on March 7, the first day candidates could file. An incumbent filing for reelection and then pulling out after his preferred successor files at the last minute is not an uncommon tactic in Illinois politics.

Landek, who generally likes to keep a low profile, declined to comment on the record about why he withdrew from the race.

Porfirio, who grew up in Bridgeview but now lives in LaGrange, currently serves as a Lyons Township trustee and also serves as the chairman of the Justice-Willow Springs Water Commission. He has been on the water commission for 10 years. Porfirio served as Landek’s Senate chief of staff for nearly four years from 2012 until the end of 2015. Porfirio served as the Director of Public Works for the Village of Bridgeview from 2014 to 2019 under Landek and previously had been an administrative aide for the village. Porfirio served as the part time Village Administrator of Summit from 2015 until 2018.

Porfirio is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and served on active duty for six years. Porfirio is currently a Commander in the Naval Reserves.  He earned a master’s degree in political science from Purdue where he also served as an NROTC instructor. He also earned an MBA from UIC.

Porfirio could not immediately be reached for comment.

Landek was appointed to the State Senate in 2011. He replaced Lou Viverito who had resigned. In the state Senate Landek has been a low key but effective legislator who generally prefers to operate behind the scenes. He typically eschews publicity and does not like to call attention to himself. He is considered a moderate Democrat and helped elect Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) state senate president in 2020. Landek has represented most of Riverside and Brookfield during his 11 years in the state senate.

“Steve Landek and I have had a very strong relationship,” said State Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside). “He’s been a champion for the region in a lot of different ways. He’s always been a person I’ve looked to for leadership in the southwestern suburbs and I’m excited for whatever the future holds for him and I’m excited to work collaboratively with Mike Porfirio.”

Landek has spent his entire adult life involved in local politics. He was first elected to public office when he was just 19 years old and won a seat of the Bridgeview park district board. He then became a village trustee in Bridgeview and was elected mayor in 1999. Even as a state senator his focus was on constituent services.

“What I admire about Steve is that he always put a focus on delivering outstanding constituent services, always what we can do to help people, and I think his emphasis on constituent services is why his career has been so successful,” said Chris Crisanti, the head of the Brookfield Democratic Organization.

Landek was considered a close ally of former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan. A 2012 Chicago Tribune story noted that Bridgeview hired an insurance company that Madigan’s son Andrew worked for around the time that Landek was appointed to the state senate to succeed Viverito. Landek has said that the hiring of Mesirow Financial had no connection with his relationship to Madigan and that he never dealt with Andrew Madigan. Landek has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Landek also serves as the Lyons Township Democratic Township Committeeman and he is running for reelection to that party post in the June primary. Every Saturday Landek holds office hours at the Lyons Township Organization headquarters in Summit where he meets with anyone who wants to see him.

He works with all sorts of people. As more of an old school, party organization kind of guy Landek was nevertheless able to forge relationships with some younger, more progressive people.

“Nobody we elect is going to vote 100 percent the way we would love them to vote all the time,” said Meaghan McAteer a co-leader of the Indivisible Illinois Brookfield chapter and a member of the Brookfield, LaGrange Park District 95 school board. “But I’ve seen him help so many people get elected and involved in local government, it’s unbelievable, I mean he doesn’t have to do that. It’s interesting to go there during those office hours because there is a different group of people there who I wouldn’t encounter in any other way so he clearly brings together people from all walks of life.”

Landek enjoys politics.

“Politics is his sport,” McAteer said.