WE ARE ILLINOIS
Expert: GOP has edge in 13th District race
By Oliver West
The Edwardsville Intelligencer
Gill and Davis seek seat vacated by Johnson
The Democratic candidate for U.S. representative in the new 13th Congressional District must establish himself as a force to be reckoned with if he hopes to rake in the large campaign contributions from outside the district that he may need to win.
The Republican candidate holds a better position with outside contributors because the party expected to win in the district that includes Edwardsville before Rep. Tim Johnson dropped out of the race.
That's how Kent Redfield, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield and an expert on Illinois elections, views the race between David Gill and Rodney Davis.
Gill, an emergency room physician in Bloomington, who ran against Johnson three times, edged out Greene County State's Attorney Matt Goetten in a tight Democratic primary race.
Doubts about his ability to raise the money needed to capture the seat for the Democrats and the perception that he is more liberal than the district were raised in online political discussion forums, such as Capitol Fax, following Davis' nomination by Republican county chairmen May 19.
Davis, an aide to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, won the backing of Madison County precinct committeemen and GOP County Chairman Andrew Carruthers when he spoke to them at a meeting at the Edwardsville Gun Club May 9.
Carruthers said he voted for Davis on all three ballots cast by the county chairmen.
"I believe Rodney will be an excellent candidate to keep the seat in the Republican column," Carruthers said. "I look forward to helping him win Madison County in November."
The redrawn district, which takes in parts of McLean (Bloomington), Sangamon (Springfield), and Macon (Decatur) counties and runs south to Collinsville, tilts slightly Democratic.
Illinois is "critical" to the Democrats' quest to gain 25 seats in the November election and take control of the House, Redfield said.
"But the question is how this race fits in with the other downstate races and the three suburban races that were higher targets than the 13th before Johnson withdrew," Redfield said. "Is this still the Democrats' fifth-best shot?"
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting Bobby Schilling, the first-term congressman who unseated Phil Hare in the 17th Congressional District, which includes Peoria and the Quad Cities, in its "red to blue races" list. Cheryl Bustos is the Democratic candidate in that race.
The three suburban races on the DCCC list include the 8th District, where Tammy Duckworth, the former Army helicopter pilot who lost her legs to combat wounds in Iraq, has raised $1.6 million in her campaign to unseat first-term representative Joe Walsh.
"If Duckworth were to open a big lead on Walsh, would the national Democrats shift dollars down to the 13th?" Redfield asked. "It is too early to tell without good polling data from all the races. If the 13th becomes a target, the big money will come from the national congressional groups and the Super PACs. ... Gill has to show he is viable and a better investment than the other four
Democrats before national groups make a big investment in him."
The National Republican Congressional Committee has targeted the same four districts in its Patriots Program. But that could change now that Davis has the nomination.
Gill had only $20,000 of the $196,000 he raised for his primary campaign on hand, according to his report after the election.
SOURCE: The Edwardsville Intelligencer
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