Edwardsville – The Metro-East will be the scene of one of the most hard-fought, expensive and important Congressional races this year as Democrats try to oust first-term Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville).
Ann Callis, a longtime Madison County judge, is now the undisputed Democratic Party candidate after defeating two rivals in the March 18 primary.
Both of Callis’ primary foes were from the Champaign-Urbana area, which demonstrates the difficulty of running in the 13th Congressional District – it’s everywhere, extending north from the Metro-East and taking in parts of the Springfield and Decatur areas plus much rural territory, finally ending up to the north and east in Champaign-Urbana.
Callis won 17,279 votes, or 55 percent, in a three-way primary.
The general election will likely focus on the differences between Davis, a GOP hardliner, and Callis, who fits into the moderate Democrat role favored by neighboring Rep. Bill Enyart, of Belleville, in the 12th Congressional District.
RED TO BLUE
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has named the 13th District as one of 16 in its “Red to Blue” campaign to turn the House back to Democrats, a designation that means the chances of victory are high enough for the national party to contribute resources and expertise. It was the only district so named in Illinois or Missouri.
WELCOME BY LABOR
After giving up the high-profile, powerful position of chief judge in Madison County, Callis has been running hard for months, making numerous appearances before labor groups such as the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor and the Southwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council. She has been warmly received.
Callis has emphasized her determination to help working families that have been suffering in the slow-paced economic recovery.
“One common theme has come up again and again,” she told the Trades Council. “People are very angry, and they are hurting. They feel like their government isn’t even listening to them. What’s going on in Washington D.C. these days is not fair and not just,” she added. “People want to work. They want good, prevailing-wage jobs.”
GOOD JOBS AND BOXING GLOVES
Callis cites raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits among the measures that would help people and bolster the economy.
“We can create good jobs, right here,” she said. “Strong labor means a strong economy, and I will work tirelessly to make that happen.”
Callis was endorsed earlier this month by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
The group’s president, Max Richtman, joined Callis at a campaign appearance before AFSCME retirees at the Wood River Moose Lodge, and presented her with a pair of red boxing gloves to denote the fight she has ahead of her.
“She not only says the right things, but her heart’s in the right place, and she’ll do the right things,” Richtman said.