Primaries set stage for lively general election battles in Southwest Illinois

By Bob Pieper For Chronicle Media

St. Clair County democrat State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly

As Democrats in Washington, D.C., hope to snare the balance of power from Republicans this fall, some Southern Illinois Congressional races are drawing increasing attention as potential bellwethers.

Of perhaps greatest interest is the 12th U.S. Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Rep. Michael Bost of Murphysboro will be challenged in the fall general election by Democratic St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly of Swansea.

Bost easily defeated Preston Nelson of Benton, in the March 20 GOP primary.

Kelly easily defeated political activist David Allan Bequette of Columbia in the district’s Democratic primary.

The Illinois 12th Congressional District is at the heart of what has long been considered a Democratic stronghold in Metro East.  It includes much of the old Illinois 21st Congressional District, which for 44 years was represented by Rep. Mel Price of (D – East St. Louis) and for 24 years by Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Belleville).

Bost won the 12 District seat from one-term incumbent Rep. Bill Enyart (D-Belleville) amid an emerging Republican resurgence in Downstate Illinois.

Republican Rep. Michael Bost

However, the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is hoping to retake the district this year.

Both Rep. Bost and State’s Attorney Kelly are receiving substantial support from national figures within their parties.

Green Party candidate Randy Auxier of Muphysboro will also be on the District 12 ballot this fall; having faced no opposition in the primary.

13th Congressional

In U.S. House District 13, three-term Republican Rep. Rodney L. Davis of Taylorville will face Democrat Betsy Dirksen Longrigan of Springfield in the fall general election.

Illinois 13th Congressional District Rep. Rodney Davis

Davis, faced no challengers in last week’s GOP primary.  Longrigan secured the Democratic nomination in the district by garnering 45 percent of the vote in a crowded primary field that included: second place Erik C. Jones of Edwardsville, Jonathan Hans Ebel of Urbana, David Michael Gill of Bloomington, Angel Sides of Springfield, and Benjamin Adam Webb of Normal.

Davis emerged last year as a national advocate for bipartisanship after being on the field as a gunman attacked a GOP softball practice in a Virginia suburb of Washington D.C.

Londrigan is a former staff member for Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a professional fundraiser, and co-founder of Women Rising, an organization that works to elect female candidates to public office. She is distantly related to the late Republican Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen of Illinois.

The national Democratic Party  is also targeting Illinois ’13th Congressional District.


Democrat Betsy Dirksen Longrigan

In U.S. Congressional District 15, incumbent Republican Rep. John Shimkus of Collinsville will face Democrat Kevin Gaither of Charleston in the fall general election. Rep. Shimkus had no opposition in the GOP primary. Gaither handily won last week’s Democratic primary over Carl Spoerer of Mahomet.

With Rep. Shimkus receiving substantial support from national GOP donors and District 15 covering the largely Republican eastern two-thirds of Southern Illinois, national Democratic organizations are not placing great emphasis on the district.

Illinois Senate

In the Illinois 48th State Senate District, Democratic incumbent State Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill will meet Christian County Republican Central Committee Chairman Seth McMillan of Taylorville in the fall general election. Neither faced opposition in the primaries.

In the 54th State Senate District, Jason Plummer of Edwardsville easily won last week’s Republican primary, over Marion County Republican Party Chairman Ben Stratemeyer of Centralia, Clinton County Board member Rafael Him of New Baden, and Greenville University men’s basketball coach George Barber of Greenville.

No Democrat has filed to run in the district.

The 54th state senate district is currently represented by Republican State Senator Kyle McCarter, who is not running for re-election

In the 57th State Senate District Republican primary, Air Force reservist Tanya Hildenbrand defeated radio talk show host Bob Romanik, both of Belleville, by a nearly two-to-one margin.

Republican Tanya Hildenbrand

Hildenbrand now faces Cahokia District 187 School Board President Christopher Belt of Cahokia in the fall general election. Belt had no opposition in last week’s Democratic primary.

Longtime 57th District State Senator James Clayborne, a Belleville Democrat, is retiring.

Though his named appeared on already-printed Republican primary ballots in the 56th Illinois State Senate District, Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton officially drew no votes after being struck from the ballot on technical grounds by the Illinois Board of Elections, just weeks before the election.

A last-minute appeal by Patton’s attorney to the Illinois Supreme Court proved unsuccessful.  No other Republican filed for a place on the ballot.

Madison County prosecutor Rachelle Aud Crowe of Glen Carbon, facing no opponents in her primary, secured the Democratic nomination in the district.

However, Crowe could still have opposition in this fall’s general election. Under state law, the leaders of the Republican Central Committees within the 56th District  could appoint a candidate to run in the November election. Several district residents have reportedly filed as write-in candidates.

Democrat Christopher Belt

Incumbent Sen. Bill Haine, an Alton Democrat, is not seeking reelection in the district.

In State Senate District 59, Incumbent Republican Sen. Dale Fowler had no opponents the last week’s primary. No Democrats have filed in the district.

State House

In the 107th Illinois House District, Blaine Wilhour of Beecher City defeated Laura Myers in the Republican primary. He will meet Democrat David Seiler in the fall general election.  Incumbent Republican 107th District Rep. John Cavaletto (R-Salem) is not running for reelection.

In the 108th State House District, Incumbent Charles Meier of Okawville held off a formidable challenge from Madison County Board member Donald Moore of Troy in the Republican primary. No Democrats have filed in the district.

In the 111th State House District, Republican Wood River Township Supervisor Mike Babcock of Bethalto and the district’s recently-appointed, Democratic incumbent Rep. Monica Bristow of Godfrey faced no opponents in their primaries.  Longtime district representative Dan Beiser of Alton recently retired.

The 112th State House District will see a rematch this fall between former representative Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon incumbent first-term Democrat Katie Stuart of Edwardsville.

Stuart defeated Kay in 2016.

Stuart was unchallenged in last week’s Democratic primary. Kay defeated businesswoman Wendy Erhart Maryville to win the GOP nomination in the district.

In the 113th State House District, neither incumbent, Democratic State Rep. Jay Hoffman of Swansea nor Republican challenger Douglas Jameson of Belleville faced competition on the primary ballot.

Similarly, In the 114th State House District, neither incumbent Democratic Rep. LaToya Greenwood of East St. Louis nor Republican Centreville Township Assessor Jason Madlock faced opposition in the primary.

Same story in the 116th State House District, where neither incumbent Rep. Jerry Costello, a Smithton Democrat, nor Republican David Friess of Red Bud had competition on the primary ballot.





Primaries set stage for lively general election battles —-