By CARL GREEN
All three of the Congressional districts that include parts of southern Illinois and the Metro East, the 12th, 13th and 15th districts, are represented by Trump-supporting Republicans. The Illinois AFL-CIO has made endorsements in both the 12th and 15th districts.
In the 12th, the state Federation has endorsed St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, who is well ahead of a couple of other contenders in fundraising, appearances and endorsements.
The district takes in Metro-East cities including Alton, Belleville, East St. Louis and Granite City, then continues along the western part of southern Illinois.
The 12th District was held by Democrats for many years until incumbent, Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) won in 2014 and 2016.
The district is considered a potential flip for Democrats, and Kelly’s candidacy has been well-received.
STRUGGLE FOR THE 15TH
The 15th Congressional District offers less of an opportunity for Labor supporters.
Except for a few small cities, it is almost entirely rural, running on a north-south line along the eastern half of southern Illinois as far north as the Champaign County area. It has a westward extension into Collinsville that allows Collinsville resident John Shimkus to serve as its representative. He has been a reliable Republican vote in Congress since 1997.
Shimkus won 75 percent of the vote in 2014 and was unopposed in 2016.
This year, he will have an opponent – probably Carl Spoerer, a Labor-supporting marketing business owner from Mahomet who is also the volunteer rugby coach at University of Illinois, or, less likely, Kevin Gaither, a former teacher and self-employed tutor.
Spoerer is endorsed by the Illinois AFL-CIO and has reported raising $17,591, while Gaither raised $6,000. Shimkus reported having $1 million in hand.