Peter Gosselin Fitzgerald
(born October 20, 1960) was the junior United States Senator from Illinois from 1999 to
He is a member of the Republican Party
previously served in the Illinois
from 1992 to 1998, where he was a member of the
' group of conservatives
who often challenged the
leadership of the Illinois GOP. The group also included Steve Rauschenberger
, Dave Syverson
, Patrick O'Malley
Illinois, Fitzgerald graduated from Portsmouth Abbey
School, a Catholic boarding school on the shores of Rhode Island, in 1978 and from Dartmouth College in 1982. He 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's family has been continuously involved in commercial
banking since the mid-1940s. His father, Gerald, built Suburban
Bancorp, a chain of suburban banks, by aggressively founding and
buying banks around the Chicago suburbs, which he sold in 1994 to a
subsidiary of the Bank of Montreal
for $246 million.
After a hard-fought primary
against Illinois Comptroller
, in which the
latter had the support of most national and state-level Republican
leaders, Fitzgerald defeated first-term Democratic
Senator Carol Moseley Braun
1998, and served for one term in the U.S. Senate. He was the first
Republican in Illinois to win a U.S. Senate race in 20 years, and
the only Republican challenger in the country to defeat an
incumbent Democratic senator in the 1998 election
cycle. Even though
Moseley Braun was dogged by corruption
charges, Fitzgerald only
defeated her by 2.9%.
is a staunch conservative, opposed to abortion (except to save the
life of the mother), gun control, gay marriage and taxes, but on
some issues, particularly environmental issues — he opposed
drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge throughout his tenure in the US Senate — he broke
with conservative colleagues.
Throughout his tenure in the Senate, Fitzgerald battled with the
state Republican Party leadership. He insisted on the appointment
of an out-of-state US
, Patrick Fitzgerald
(who is unrelated), to investigate corruption in the Illinois state
government, which led to several indictments, including that of
former Republican Governor
, who has since been
convicted of several criminal abuses of authority, and Democratic
Governor Rod Blagojevich
, who is accused of
attempting to sell the Senate
seat vacated by Barack Obama
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 Senate,
the first in 2000 when he filibustered
massive federal spending bill because it included funds for the
Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. He did it to bring to
light the Republican-controlled Illinois state government's failure
to promise competitive bidding for the project.
His second major moment was following the September 11, 2001 attacks
Congress quickly passed a massive bailout measure for most of the
major airlines, which were in trouble financially. Standing alone
out of all members of the U.S. 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. The bill passed 99 to 1.
Citing problems dealing with the state party leadership and family
issues, Fitzgerald retired from the Senate at the end of his first
and only term. He was succeeded by future President Barack Obama
Fitzgerald is Chairman of Chain
Bridge Bank, N.A.
in McLean, Virginia. He serves on the Board
of Trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, which is a museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution
- 1998 Republican Primary - U.S.
- 1998 General Election - U.S.
Bridge Bank, N.A.
- National Constitution Center (2008). National Constitution Center Board of Trustees.
Retrieved April 17, 2008.