Belleville – Democrat Bill Enyart is racking up the endorsements and generating excitement in the race to replace retiring 12th District Congressman Jerry Costello (D-Belleville).
Enyart, retired adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard, recently received the COPE endorsement of the Illinois AFL-CIO, as well as the endorsement of VoteVets.org Political Action Committee.
Enyart earlier received the 12th Congressional COPE District endorsement and a spot on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s highly competitive Red-to-Blue program, which highlights top Democratic campaigns across the country and offers them financial, communications, grassroots and strategic support.
The 12th Congressional District runs from the Metro East to the southern tip of Illinois.
Bill Looby, Illinois AFL-CIO political director, said Enyart received the AFL-CIO COPE endorsement because he stands with working families and sides with them on key issues facing the district.
“The 12th District is a key area of the state,” Looby said. “It’s a middle class district and the backbone is union workers. We think it deserves representation comparable to what it’s gotten under Congressman Costello and Bill is the candidate we think will be able to carry on that tradition.
Looby said Enyart’s background should be appealing to voters.
Enyart resigned his post with the National Guard in June to enter the race following the withdrawal of Democratic candidate Brad Harriman for medical reasons. The adjutant general is the senior officer in the chain of command for the Illinois Army and Air National Guards’ 13,000 soldiers and airmen. Enyart was an attorney in his civilian life before assuming command of the Illinois National Guard in 2007.
“He’s clearly devoted much of his life to public service, service in the military, and that absolutely doesn’t hurt in terms of both getting elected and being sort of in touch with the people of the district,” Looby said.
Enyart was enthusiastic about receiving the endorsement and about working with organized labor.
“I’m very pleased to have the endorsement of the AFL-CIO COPE,” Enyart said. “I think it certainly says a great deal about my working background, and the support from organized labor is going to be invaluable in my campaign.”
LOCAL AND LABOR TIES
Enyart is a Belleville resident. He and his wife, a retired judge, raised their two adult sons in Belleville.
Enyart also has strong union ties in his family. His father worked on the assembly line at Caterpillar tractor company and was a member of the UAW. Enyart worked on the welding line at Caterpillar while he was in school to pay for college. His uncle is a retired United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) coal miner.
A GROUNDSWELL OF SUPPORT
Facing a well-heeled Republican opponent, and having come late to the race, Enyart said he was encouraged by his early fund raising success and the number of union members and others who have stepped up to support his campaign
The Republican in the race is Jason Plummer, a 31-year-old millionaire heir to a lumber fortune and a tea party favorite.
According to recent campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Plummer has raised $541,359 and spent $324,939 on the campaign through June 30.
Enyart, who entered the race in June, raised $177,990 and spent $1,256.
“I think it shows just a ground swell of support for my campaign,” Enyart said. “People are volunteering to work and make calls. Everybody is energized and excited.”