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GOP candidates line up for open congressional seat

Wed, 18 Apr 2012 10:50:13 CDT
By: Charlie Schlenker

GOP candidates line up for open congressional seat The public got a look at many of the possible candidates for the GOP congressional nomination in the 13th district, even though the selection will be done behind closed doors. WGLT's Charlie Schlenker has more on presentations given in Bloomington.

(Photo: Who will it be?)


It's rare that a truly open seat happens, especially in Congress. And in spite of the toxic atmosphere in Washington, and a district that doesn't favor Republicans, the 13th is still a popular job. At least eight Republicans in the 13th district have expressed interest in the spot being vacated by Representative Tim Johnson. Six of them tested out their campaign running shoes before an audience of the party faithful. Several, have a common meme.

Overnight the 13th became a target on the pathway of Nancy Pelosi returning to power. - We know Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats want to recover the House. They're opportunist and will invade if they smell there is a chance in a district. - I'd like to beat Doctor Gill a 4th time to make sure Nancy Pelosi does not become speaker again.

Those turning the former House Speaker into a rallying cry mentioned ten times in an hour include respectively, Congressional staffer Rodney Davis of Taylorville, Assistant Illinois House Minority Leader Dan Brady of Bloomington, and Congressional Chief of Staff Jerry Clarke of Urbana. Politics is about making connections and most of the aspiring politicians have lot of networks. The ones they are emphasizing differ. Three year state senator Kyle McCarter of Lebanon says he can appeal to independents as shown by his results in Macon County.

Probably what I think is seen by Republicans as the tougher part of this Congressional District. I won that area and I won Decatur, the toughest part of it by a thousand votes.

Former state representative Mike Tate one ups McCarter saying he won Decatur five times in ten years before stepping down to raise a family. Tate says his children are grown now and he can pour himself into a Congressional race that will be enhanced by his business connections as CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois.

In terms of a campaign operation, I can tell yah I have small business people, independent agents which are like the backbone of their communities. They live in small towns in Illinois and they're the kind of people that are on their church board, active in the rotary club.

There are about 200 days to go before the November election. State Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington says the profile of a great candidate to deal with that short time frame looks a lot like...well, like him...he says someone with a record of high energy person to person campaigning, the ability to draw volunteers and yes to raise money. Brady says not only has he held office, but he has helped other Republicans, implying it would be their turn to help him if he is selected.

And I'm proud to say I've campaigned for candidates at every level from city council and county board to President of the United States. From my time as a young man helping to rebuild young republican groups across the state to my present role as Assistant House Republican Leader, I've made service my driving force.

Brady also touts his name recognition, which could be code for having the same last name as a recent GOP candidate for Governor who did well in counties comprising the 13th district. Call it the Brady effect. Two other candidates focus on the networks they would have if they won the race against Democratic Candidate David Gill in November. Jerry Clarke, Chief of Staff for Congressman Randy Hultgren, former Chief of Staff for Tim Johnson, and a longtime GOP staffer in Springfield emphasizes his ability to navigate Washington.

So I've seen the, up close, the dysfunction of Congress, the endless gridlock, the out of control spending, and I think we can do better than that and I think I am ready to serve.

The threads that bind the system together are also a specialty of Rodney Davis of Taylorville, for the last sixteen years, the special projects director for Congressman John Shimkus.

I have helped countless constituents work through the bureaucratic red tape of Washington D.C. and the federal bureaucracy. I've been tasked with helping local leaders in 30 counties identify cost effective ways to address their local infrastructure issues.

A candidate with less of a resume chose to emphasize his social conservatism. David Paul Blumenshine of Bloomington mentioned the Trayvon Martin killing, trying to diminish it compared to the abortion issue.

We're talking about rioting over a young man and another young man who got into an altercation and unfortunately somebody lost their life. Since Roe v Wade was overturned we killed 50 million people

By the way, Roe v Wade has not been OVERturned.

At least five of the fourteen county party chiefs who will eventually make the call were watching the performances. Although some may have already committed to an initial candidate, none are likely to go public with support ahead of a private get together late this month. State Party Chair Pat Brady has yet to announce the selection process. When the party had to hurriedly replace a candidate in the 11th district a few years ago, County Chairs looked over all the resumes, polled each other, and then invited three finalists to make their cases in person before casting ballots weighted by population. Champaign and Macon Counties have the two largest chunks of the vote.


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