The Metro-East has the potential to be a major battleground for U.S. House of Representatives elections, containing parts of three districts, but it hasn’t reached that point because of the configurations of those districts.
The 12th District takes in most of the cities of the Metro-East, including Granite City, East St. Louis, Alton and a large section of rural counties to the east and south.
It was a Democratic bastion while Rep. Jerry Costello was in office, but Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro), no friend of Labor, has won all but one election there since Costello retired and is running again, faced this time by Ray Lenzi (D-Carbondale), a professor and economic development specialist endorsed by the Illinois AFL-CIO and other union groups.
Lenzi, 73, has steadily attacked Bost, 59, for refusing to debate, calling him “Chicken Mike” and dressing up a campaign worker in a chicken costume. Matters became more complicated on Oct. 8 when Bost tested positive for COVID-19 and began quarantine.
Even before he tested positive, Bost, a Trump loyalist, had refused to meet with Lenzi, and had not been making public appearances.
Lenzi has made a series of appearances attacking Bost’s performance in Congress and express his support for campaign finance reform.
“We see this as a race of good, clean government standing with the people and what the people need versus corrupted politics – corrupted by big corporate donations and dark and dirty money,” he told the Labor Tribune.
Betsy Dirksen Londrigan
The 13th District crosses the central part of the state to take in Champaign, Bloomington, Decatur and Springfield and numerous rural counties, and extends southward to include Edwardsville.
Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan of Springfield nearly unseated incumbent Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) – losing by less than one percent, and is challenging him again this year with the full support of the AFL-CIO and the area’s unions.
Londrigan, 48, has made health care the key issue of the campaign, pledging her support to maintain and improve the Affordable Care Act and pointing out that Davis has cast 11 votes to repeal it, leaving millions without health care coverage.
The 15th District includes the entire east side of the state from Massac County on the Ohio River to the area around Danville, half-way north to Chicago from Massac County, as well Madison County and parts of Bond, Clinton and Washington counties. It is highly rural, and considered a strong Republican district. Outgoing Rep. John Shimkus (R-Collinsville), has won in it easily in recent elections.
Erika Weaver of Mattoon is facing off against Mary Miller of Oakland for the seat. Weaver is endorsed by the Illlinois AFL-CIO.
Weaver, 46, says she is running to be an advocate for families.
“I entered this race because I want every family to have the opportunity to create and define their American Dream, but without the hardships that I endured,” she said. “My campaign reflects and embodies my life, work and heart for service.”
Weaver would seek to eliminate tuition for community colleges, increase federal funding for Pell grants, support partnerships between community colleges and high school and support apprenticeship/certificate programs.
“Working families need to have education, training, and apprenticeship opportunities in order to have gainful employment,” she said. “We also need to train people for the jobs of today and tomorrow. We need to be sure that our district is trained for jobs that provide clean energy to our municipalities and counties.”