13th District could see pivotal U.S. House race 

By Bob Pieper for Chronicle Media

Incumbent Republicans Congessmen Rodney Davis (left) and Mike Bost will be facing Democrat challengers in the 2020 November elections.

With Republicans and Democrats struggling for control of the U.S. House of Representatives, both parties will be focusing resources on Illinois’ 13th House District during the Nov. 3, 2020 general elections.

There, incumbent Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) is again being challenged by Democrat Betsy Dirksen of Springfield.

Rep. Taylor and Dirksen were the only two candidates who had submitted nomination forms in the district, when filing closed, Dec. 2.

Repeatedly targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in the past, the 13th is the only GOP-held or open district in Illinois to be targeted by the DCCC in 2020.

Dirksen ran against Rep. Taylor in the 2016 election; losing by just one percent.

Politico currently rates the contest a “toss-up.”

Rep. Davis has represented the 13th District since 2013.

The 13th district covers all or part of 14 counties including a section of Madison County.

Republicans currently hold all three of the congressional districts covering Metro East.

Omitted from the DCCC target list this year, after being included in 2016, is the Illinois 12th Congressional District, which has been represented by Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) since 2015.

Two Democrats — Joel Funk, of Mascoutah and Ray Lenzi, of Makanda — will square off in next year’s district’s March 17 primary election for the right to challenge Rep. Bost in the fall.

Rep. Bost held off a challenge from former St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly in 2016; despite support from the DCCC.

Politico describes the district as “leaning Republican.”

The 12th District covers a section of western Madison County, as well as all of Monroe, St. Clair, and nine other counties.

In the Illinois 15th District,  a crowded field of both Republicans and Democrats will be vying in the March primaries for the right to succeed retiring Rep. John Shimkus (R-Collinsville).

Hoping to represent the GOP in the district fall general election will be:

  • Kent Gray of Leland Grove;
  • Alex Walker of Mattoon;
  • Lori L. Fuller of Highland;
  • John Bambenek from Champaign;
  • Mary Miller of Oakland;

and Kerry Wolff of Altamont.

[State Sen. Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) reportedly considered a congressional run in the district; but had not filed nominating petitions as of last week’s deadline.]

Ray Lenzi of Makanda

Competing to run under the Democratic banner will be John W. Hursey Jr. of Collinsville and Kevin Gaither of Charleston.

Politico describes the district as “solid Republican.”

Rep. Shimkus has served in the U.S. House since 1997. He has represented the 15th District since 2013. Prior to a redistricting, he represented old the Illinois 19th District.

He announced plans to retire on Aug. 30 and issued a statement reaffirming his decision on No. 4.

The 15th District covers all or part of 33 counties, including roughly the easternmost half of Madison County.

No third-party candidates had filed for Metro East congressional district’s by last week’s deadline.

One – Green Party member Randy Auxier of Carbondale – ran for Congress in the 12th District in 2018.

However, the Green Party nominee failed to draw enough votes to secure the party a guaranteed spot on the 2020 ballot in the district.

Independent candidates still have until June 22, 2020 to file for a place on next year’s November general election ballot.

Races for county-wide office in Metro East next year are as follows:


Madison County

Incumbent Republican Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler will be challenged by Democratic former Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools Bob Daiber in next fall’s general election.

A heated battled may be on tap for Madison County State’s Attorney.  Former Assistant State’s Attorney Susan Jensen and current First Assistant State’s Attorney Crystal Uhe will meet in the March Democratic primary. The winner will take on Republican Tom Haine in the fall.

Jensen was fired from the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office in December 2017 and replaced by Uhe.

Joel Funk of Mascoutah

Incumbent Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons, who has served in that post since 2010, announced, Dec. 4,  that he will run for the Third Judicial Circuit vacancy created by the retirement of former Chief Judge Judge Dave Hylla, last week.

Democratic East Alton Mayor Joe Silkwood and Republican Madison County Board Member David Michael have filed for county auditor.

Incumbent county Coroner Steve Nonn, a Democrat, will be challenged in next fall’s general election by Republican Harry Mason.

Democrat Amy Gabriel and Republican Madison County Board Member Tom McRae will compete in the general for Madison County circuit clerk.

Incumbent Circuit Clerk Mark Von Nida announced, April 23, that he would not seek reelection, in order to devote more time to his duties as Madison County Democratic Party Chairman.


St. Clair County

Democratic St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern is facing no primary or general election challengers in his bid for a fifth term.

Likewise facing no opposition is St. Clair County State’s Attorney James Gomric. The Democrat was appointed to the county’s top law enforcement post on Jan. 24 of this year, after then-State’s Attorney Brenda Kelly was named the new director of the Illinois State Police.

St. Clair County Coroner Calvin Dye Sr. will be challenged in the March Democratic primary by former deputy coroner Dean Darnall.

Incumbent Democratic Circuit Clerk Kahalah Clay will face Republican Jason Madlock in the fall general election

Incumbent Democratic Auditor Patty Sprague is running for reelection unopposed.

Incumbent Recorder Mike Costello, a Democrat, will face Republican Doug Jameson in the general election.

Competing in the March Democratic primary for an open seat on the county’s three-person board of review will be Kinnis Williams, Sr. and  Rickey C. Easton.  The winner will face Republican Jim Wilson in the fall general election.


Monroe County 

Republican George Green and Democrat Duane Langhorst will compete in November for the County Commission seat currently held by retiring Commission Chair Robert Elmore, a Republican.

For Monroe County state’s attorney: Republican Ryan Martin will face Democrat Celeste Korando. The county’s incumbent state’s attorney, Republican Chris Hitzemann, is leaving the post to run for the 12th Judicial Circuit Court.

Republican Circuit Clerk Lisa Fallon and Republican Coroner Bob Hill are running unopposed for reelection.