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Peter Gosselin Fitzgerald (born October 20, 1960) was the junior United States Senator from Illinoismarker from 1999 to 2005. He is a member of the Republican Party (GOP). He previously served in the Illinois State Senate from 1992 to 1998, where he was a member of the 'Fab Five' group of conservatives who often challenged the leadership of the Illinois GOP. The group also included Steve Rauschenberger, Dave Syverson, Patrick O'Malley, and Chris Lauzen.

Born in Illinois, Fitzgerald graduated from Portsmouth Abbey Schoolmarker, a Catholic boarding school on the shores of Rhode Islandmarker, in 1978 and from Dartmouth Collegemarker in 1982. He completed his post-graduate studies as a Rotary Scholar at Aristotelian Universitymarker in Greecemarker, and earned his law degree from the University of Michiganmarker 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.

Political career

After a hard-fought primary victory against Illinois Comptroller Loleta Didrickson, in which the latter had the support of most national and state-level Republican leaders, Fitzgerald defeated first-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun in 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%.

Fitzgerald 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 Refugemarker 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 attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald (who is unrelated), to investigate corruption in the Illinois state government, which led to several indictments, including that of former Republican Governor George Ryan, 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 a 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, when 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.

Post-political career

Fitzgerald is Chairman of Chain Bridge Bank, N.A. in McLean, Virginia. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Centermarker in Philadelphiamarker, which is a museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.

Electoral history

  • 1998 Republican Primary - U.S. Senate
  • 1998 General Election - U.S. Senate


  2. Chain Bridge Bank, N.A.
  3. National Constitution Center (2008). National Constitution Center Board of Trustees. Retrieved April 17, 2008.

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