Michael Patrick Flanagan (born November 9, 1962) is a former captain in the United States Army, a practicing attorney, and a Republican Party politician from Chicago, Illinois.
Flanagan is best known for his victory over eighteen-term Congressman Ways and Means Committee chairman Dan Rostenkowski in the 1994 United States midterm elections. His was one of fifty-four Republican victories in the House of Representatives that allowed the party to take control of both houses of Congress, as part of the Republican Revolution.
Flanagan was born in Chicago, Illinois on November 9, 1962, the second of five sons in a family of Irish-descent. He graduated from Lane Technical High School, and he earned a B.A. from Loyola University in 1984 and a J.D. from Loyola University School of Law in 1988. He served in the United States Army as a field artillery officer from 1984 to 1988 (at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, and at Fort Benning in Georgia), and 1991 to 1992 (during the Gulf War), achieving the rank of captain.
Flanagan was admitted to the Illinois State Bar Association in 1991.
Flanagan was elected to represent the fifth district of Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994, defeating 18-term Congressman and former Ways and Means Committee chairman Dan Rostenkowski, becoming the first Republican to represent a significant portion of Chicago since 1967. Rostenkowski was under indictment during the election.
The election result was a considerable upset, considering that Flanagan was, according to the Chicago Tribune, "a political neophyte who was underfunded, understaffed and unknown." Due to his victory, Flanagan earned the nicknames of "the accidental congressman" and "the Rosty-slayer."
While a member of Congress, Flanagan served on the House Judiciary Committee, the House Government Reform Committee, and the Joint Committee on Telecommunications. He had a conservative record in the House, opposing abortion and gun control, while supporting the death penalty. He also condemned then-President Clinton's national healthcare plan for its government takeover of the healthcare system.
While the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune both endorsed Flanagan for reelection in 1996, he was regarded as a heavy underdog against the Democratic challenger, State Representative Rod Blagojevich. As expected, the district reverted to form; Blagojevich soundly defeated Flanagan, and Bill Clinton easily carried the district. Flanagan's loss was one of the 12 seats first-term Republican candidates lost in the 1996 election. Proving just how Democratic this district was and still is, no Republican has tallied more than 35 percent of the vote since Flanagan left office.
Flanagan moved to Washington D.C. in 1999 and is currently the president of Flanagan Consulting LLC. He has been active in Illinois Boys State since 1979. Flanagan worked in Iraq for two years for the U.S. State Department, as part of team sent to help set up democratic institutions in the country.