Democrats and their Labor Movement allies finally know who will be their candidate for Congress in the 12th Congressional District.
Ray Lenzi, 73, a retired college professor and economic development leader, edged out Joel Funk, 36, of Mascoutah, in the Illinois primary election Feb. 22. However, Lenzi had a narrow margin of 50.5 percent to 49.6 percent for Funk, and Funk decided to wait for the last votes to be counted before conceding.
In the following weeks, as mail-in, absentee and provisional ballots trickled in without giving Funk the lead, and he realized there were not enough remaining ballots to change the outcome and conceded the race to Lenzi.
“If there’s a good way to lose an election, I guess this is it,” Funk said. “I’m within the margin of going through the recount process, but I don’t have time for it and I don’t want to put anyone else through it.”
Lenzi, of Makanda near Carbondale, will challenge Republican incumbent Mike Bost, of Murphysboro for the district formerly held by Democratic Rep. Jerry Costello of Belleville.
The district includes large parts of the Metro-East, including the cities of Alton, Belleville, East St. Louis and Granite City, and adjacent towns in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties.
“Joel ran a great campaign, and he and his supporters deserve to be congratulated,” Lenzi said. “We hope we can work with Joel to unite the party as we approach the November election.”
CHALLENGING BOST ON HIS RECORD
Lenzi said he can now take on the record of Bost, who has been a stalwart supporter of the Republican Party line but hasn’t brought any major federal projects to the district.
“Mike Bost has not served the people of the district, even refusing to meet with and engage the people,” Lenzi said. “He has voted against their health care needs; he voted for tax cuts for the super-rich, and he has ignored the needs of the region.”
SUPPORTS BIDEN FOR PRESIDENT
In an op-ed piece on his website, lenziforcongress.org, Lenzi endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and saluted Biden’s strongest primary opponent, Bernie Sanders.
“The people have spoken,” Lenzi said. “Biden’s long history in Democratic and retail politics along with his record of working with labor unions and the African-American community have paid off. Now the progressive wing of the party must join in a mutually beneficial alliance with the more moderate wing of the party to push forward its agenda for bold action on universal health care, climate crisis action and income inequality.”