A conversation with Betsy Londrigan at Steamfitters Local 439 hall

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Candidate for Illinois’ 13th District pledges not to take corporate money, supports apprenticeships

By CARL GREEN
Illinois Correspondent

BETSY LONDRIGAN, CANDIDATE FOR ILLINOIS' 13TH U.S. HOUSE DISTRICT, TALKS POLITICS with Totsie Bailey, retired Steamfitters Local 439 business manager and current executive secretary-treasurer of the Southwestern Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council. – Labor Tribune photo

Caseyville, IL – Betsy Londrigan, the woman who almost toppled longtime U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis two years ago, is back in the spotlight, currently the only Democratic candidate to challenge Davis again in the Illinois 13th Congressional District.

The activist and campaign worker from Springfield came within a percentage point of defeating the Republican incumbent from Taylorville in November 2018 after fending off four Democratic candidates in the primary.

This year, she not only has no primary opposition but she’s getting greater support from the national Democratic Party, which now sees the district as one that can be turned out of Republican hands.

She stopped on Sept. 26 at the Steamfitters Local 439 hall south of Collinsville for a visit with Business Manager Mark Thomas; retired business manager and current executive secretary-treasurer of the Southwestern Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council Totsie Bailey; Pam Monetti of the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership and an American Income Life representative; and Local 439 Office Manager Janie Bailey.

The district takes in much of Madison County, including Edwardsville, and ranges northward and eastward to include the cities Bloomington-Normal, Springfield, Decatur and Champaign-Urbana plus the rural areas between them.

Here’s the conversation she had with the Labor Tribune before campaign workers hurried her away.

So how’s the campaign going?
The campaign’s going great. I’ve been getting all over the 13th District, and people are excited that I’m back in the race. We built this amazing volunteer army of over 2,000 people across the district who are fired up and ready to flip this seat.

What’s the difference between this year and the 2018 campaign?
People saw how hard we worked – that makes a big difference – and they saw how close we came. People who were maybe non-believers last cycle are all in and ready to go.

What kind of support are you getting?
We’re going to have a lot more volunteers, and our race is a top target nationally.

They can look at the numbers and see how close we came. We came within less than one percent of getting this seat flipped. We are redoubling our efforts, and making sure we’re registering voters, knocking on doors and getting the extra votes we need to flip this seat.

How are you doing on campaign money?
It’s coming in. I’m very cognizant of making sure our grassroots army is reflected in our fundraising. Last cycle, our average donation was $37.34, if I remember correctly. I want to make sure people know that their voices are important no matter what they can give. If they can’t give money, they can volunteer time and energy, and I so appreciate it. It all works together.

One thing that is different this cycle is that I am not taking any corporate PAC money.

People can rest assured I’m going to Washington to represent people – not PACs, not corporate PACs, not special interests, but people.

How does that compare to your opponent?
I can look at Congressman Davis’ fundraising and see that he’s taken so much money from corporate PACs and special interests, it’s reflected in the way he votes. He votes against protecting people’s pre-existing conditions, he votes against lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and why? Because he’s taken millions of dollars from these corporate PACs and special interests, pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies. I want to make sure people know I want to represent real people in the 13th District, and not corporations.

Does running unopposed in the primary make it harder to generate events and interest in your candidacy?
The folks I ran against last cycle immediately jumped on board after the primary. In fact, Eric Jones (Edwardsville attorney) and Jonathon Ebel (University of Illinois professor) have not only become very dear friends, but they’ve been surrogates for me on the campaign trail. They’re great and they’re 100 percent Team Betsy, and they’re working with me to head straight at Rodney Davis and get him retired.

How can the construction industry avoid damage to its highly effective union apprenticeship programs?
The administration must not be allowed to weaken the regulations regarding apprenticeship programs, especially relating to the construction industry. Union apprenticeship programs have a 100-year track record of producing skilled professionals in their fields. It’s essential for safety and quality that construction workers engaged in these dangerous and demanding jobs know that the people working beside them have gone through the same rigorous training programs.

Should the House be pursuing impeachment of the president?
What we’re doing right now – getting the truth – is exactly what we need to be doing. The American people deserve to know the truth. I’m watching this unfold just like everyone else.

Do you have a favorite in the Democratic presidential primary?
I’m so focused on our work in the 13th Congressional District and making sure that our grassroots volunteer army is strong, that we’ll just see where the chips fall. I’m looking forward to representing the people of the 13th District, bringing jobs back to the district, working for working families and focusing on the issues that really hit their pocketbooks. I’ve always focused heavily on health care and jobs because that’s what I hear about from people on the campaign trail, so I plan on continuing to focus on those issues.

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