Crowded field vies to succeed Shimkus for 15th Congressional seat

By Bob Pieper for Chronicle Media


John Shimkus

A quintet of Republican hopefuls will vie in Illinois’ March 17 primary for the right to challenge longtime U.S. Senator Dick Durbin — one of the Democratic Party’s most prominent figures — during this fall’s Nov. 3 general election.

First elected to the Senate in 1996, Durbin has since 2005 been the Democratic Whip; the second-highest position in the Senate Democratic leadership.

He faces no opposition in next month’s Democratic primary.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings indicate that, as of Dec. 31, Sen. Durbin, an East St. Louis native, had at least $3,746,493.56 to fund his reelection bid.

Campaign finance reports, covering activities up to the fourth quarter of 2019, were due to the FEC Jan. 31, and posted online by commission Feb. 3.

Filings indicate the Durbin campaign had raised $6,849,603.56 heading into election year and had so far expended $3,102,610.

Competing for the GOP’s 2020 Illinois Senate nomination, during next month’s primary, will be:

  • Mark C. Curran, Jr. of Libertyville, whose campaign, at year’s end, had $20,386.56 in cash on hand, as well as $10,000.00 in debt; reflecting $88,580.33 in contributions and $68,193.77 in disbursements.
  • Tom Tarter of Springfield, with a $48,678.50 campaign treasury and $50,000 in debt; reflecting receipts of $113,425.11 and disbursements of $64,746.61.
  • Casey Chlebek of Glenview, whose campaign reports $1,158.52 in cash on hand, as well as $2,886.42 in debt, reflecting receipts of $13,889.54 and disbursements of $12,731.02.
  • Peggy Hubbard of Belleville, with $9,948.86 in campaign cash on hand and no campaign debt; based on receipts of $111,822.32 and disbursements of $101,873.46, and
  • Robert Marshall of Burr Ridge who has reported no campaign contributions or expenditures to the FEC.
  • Peggy Hubbard

Hubbard is a retired policewoman and former IRS employee.

Her near lead in funding comes despite the notable political or professional pedigrees of her GOP primary rivals.

Curran is the sheriff of Lake County. Tarter is a nationally renowned urologist and cancer surgeon, medical researcher and college professor.

Chlebek is a computer engineer and Republican National Committee member. Marshall is a Harvard educated radiologist.

Nine residents of Illinois’ 15th Congressional District are hoping to succeed retiring Republican Rep. John Shimkus of Collinsville, according to the unofficial March primary ballot, released by the Illinois Board of Elections (IBOE). on Dec. 11.

Among the six candidates listed on the 15th District Republican primary ballot at this time, Rossville-area agribusinessman Darren Duncan far-and-away leads in fundraising.

Duncan had $206,765.49 in his campaign coffers at the end of the last FEC reporting period; after raising $207,185.00 last year and spending just $419.51.

He is the treasurer of Vermilion County and the only candidate on the IBOE’s unofficial 15th District GOP primary ballot, who is currently holding elected office.

Mattoon-area educator and farmer Mary Miller had a respectable $107,273.56 in her campaign treasury at year’s end; after raising $165,293.50 and spending $58,019.94, according to her FEC filings.

Third in fundraising among the 15th District GOP hopefuls is Decatur physician-attorney Richard Charles Ellington, Jr. who had $3,869.13 in campaign cash on hand — after raising $7,900.00 and spending $4,030.87 last year.

Darren Duncan

Altamont agribusinessman Kerry Allen Wolff had $336.82 in his campaign treasury; after raising $4,747.80 and spending $4,410.98.

Kent Gray of Leland appears on the IBOE’s unofficial March GOP primary ballot, however, the FEC website shows no contributions or expenditures for his campaign.

Kimberly Wade of Grafton also appears on the IBOE unofficial GOP primary ballot, however, she does not appear in the FEC database.

Objections to both Gray’s and Wade’s candidacies have been filed with the IBOE.

Republicans Alex Walker of Mattoon, Lori Fuller of Highland, and John Christian Bambenek of Champaign all announced candidacies in the 15th District last year; however, none of them appear on the IBOE unofficial ballot and the FEC lists no contributions or disbursements for their campaigns.

Of the three 15th District candidates on the unofficial March Democratic primary ballot, only Kevin Gaither of Charleston has reported any campaign fundraising to the FEC.

Gaither, the Democratic general election candidate in the district in 2018, had $1,085.32 in his campaign treasury at year’s end; after raising $3,824.76 and spending $2,815.54.

John Wesley Hursey, Jr. of Collinsville and Erika Weaver of Mattoon appear on the IBOE unofficial Democratic primary ballot but the FEC lists no contributions or disbursements for their campaigns.

Democratic Salem city councilman Craig Morton announced a bid for the 15th Congressional District seat last year; however, he does not appear on the IBOE unofficial primary ballot and the FEC lists no contributions or disbursements for his campaign.

Rep. Shimkus has represented the 15th district since 2013.  Prior to redistricting, he represented the Illinois 19th District.  He announced plans to retire from Congress in August.

The congressional district covers parts of Bond, Champaign, Ford and Madison counties, and all of Clark, Clay, Clinton, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Edwards, Effingham, Fayette, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jasper, Johnson, Lawrence, Marion, Massac, Moultrie, Pope, Richland, Saline, Shelby, Vermilion, Wabash, Washington, Wayne and White counties.

Betsey Dirksen Londrigan

As expected, Illinois’ 13th Congressional District is becoming the scene of a hotly contested race between Republican incumbent Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville and veteran Democratic Party figure Betsey Dirksen Londrigan of Springfield.

FEC filings show the two running roughly neck-and-neck in fundraising.

So far in the 2020 election cycle, Rep. Davis has raised $1,867,448.94 for his campaign. Following $810,862.25 in disbursements during 2019, the Rodney Davis for Congress campaign treasury had -$1,076,163.12 in cash on hand at year’s end.

The Londrigan campaign raised a total of $1,439,723.87 last year. After $297,031.01 in disbursements, the Democrat had $1,143,461.12 in her campaign coffers at the end of last year.

Before meeting Rep. Davis in the Nov. 3 general election, however, Londrigan must face off against Urbana-area activist Stephanie Smith in the March Democratic primary.

Smith has raised $6,794.98 since declaring her candidacy last year, according to her FEC filings. After using $5,758.81 of those funds, her campaign treasury had a balance of $1,036.17 at year’s end.

Rep. Davis faces no GOP primary opposition.

The 13th Congressional District covers parts of Bond, Champaign, Madison, McLean and Sangamon counties, and all of Christian, Calhoun, De Witt, Greene, Jersey, Macon, Macoupin, Montgomery and Piatt counties

In the 12th Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Michael Bost of Murphysboro will likewise face no opposition on the March Republican primary ballot.

His campaign raised $1,080,460.82 last year. After disbursements of $379,523.35, the campaign had cash on hand of $706,258 at year’s end.

Competing for the right to challenge Rep. Bost, this fall, are two Democratic primary contenders: Joel David Funk of Mascoutah and Dr. Raymond Carl Lenzi of Makanda.

Funk’s campaign had $12,225.45 in cash on hand at the end of the most recent federal reporting period; after raising $51,449.52 and expending $39,224.07 last year.

Lenzi’s campaign had $16,751.37; after raising $26,675.55 and disbursing $9,924.18.

The 12th District covers parts of Madison county, and all of Alexander, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Monroe, Perry, Pulaski, Randolph, St. Clair, Union and Williamson counties,