As Southern and central Illinois Democrats look to unseat Republican congressional incumbents in the 12th, 13th and 15th districts, only a handful of candidates have raised more than six figures in financial support.
St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, who is among the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in the 12th District, has raised more than $350,000, which included contributions from top Democrats in Washington and from the leadership of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The amount gives him a substantial dollar lead over the other candidates in the Democratic field.
David Bequette raised $7,000 for his campaign during the third quarter, according to campaign finance reports. In announcing the fundraising totals, Bequette bemoaned the role of money in politics.
“Money has become the main focus of the political process, both on the state and federal level,” Bequette said. “This often leaves people, like minority communities, LGBTQIA Americans, and young people voiceless in the process.”
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Bequette’s campaign said in its news release the amount of money raised is “vastly different from that of nationally backed establishment candidates in the district.”
The campaign said its average donation is less than $100, with money coming from 72 individuals. It also said it received $1,000 in donations during the first week of the fourth quarter.
Mascoutah City Councilman Pat McMahan has only reported $575 in contributions. Dean Pruitt of Millstadt, and Adam King, of Alton, haven’t reported any fundraising totals, according to the Federal Elections Commission.
“We haven’t been active fundraising as we like to be,” King said referring to his campaign.
In the 12th District, incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, has raised a little more than $713,000 this year for his 2018 campaign.
In the Illinois 13th Congressional District, Erik Jones, a former Illinois assistant attorney general has the fundraising lead among Democratic challengers, reporting more than $221,000 in contributions.
Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, who has worked as a fundraiser for the campaign committee of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and as development director for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, has raised more than $184,000. Londrigan also has spent more money on her campaign, reporting nearly $56,000 in disbursements, compared to Jones’ nearly $27,000.
University of Illinois Professor Jonathan Ebel has raised nearly $97,000 for his campaign, according to reports filed with the FEC.
Davis, who is the Republican incumbent in the race, has raised more than $1.1 million since the beginning of the year.
Seeing the high dollar amounts coming for the 12th and 13th districts is further evidence that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted those two districts to flip in the 2018 midterm elections.
Ultimately, showing an ability to raise resources to campaign will be key to being successful in the election.
“This far out from the midterm elections, it is important for challenger campaigns to be harnessing this grassroots energy and building a financial foundation that is geared towards winning a general election,” said Jacob Peters, a regional Press secretary for the DCCC. “In order to beat establishment Republicans in Washington, candidates must have the resources to define themselves and communicate their message with voters between now and Election Day.”
Candidates in these races have worked to show the contributions are signs of grassroots support.
“The swell of support that our grassroots campaign has received from neighbors around the 13th district is beyond encouraging,” Londrigan said in a news release pointing to most of her receipts were for $100 or less. “It’s a sure sign that the people of central Illinois are demanding their seat at the table.”
In the 15th District, incumbent U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, has raised more than $738,000 since the beginning of the year.
The three Democrats who have filed to run are well behind Shimkus in a district the DCCC has not targeted to flip.
Carl Spoerer, a Mahomet resident who is self-employed and runs telecommunications company Rural Country Marketing Corp., has raised about $12,000; Kevin Gaither, of Charleston, who has been a volunteer in previous political campaigns, has raised nearly $2,500, and Anthony March, a teacher from Danville, has raised $337.
Campaign fundraising as of the Third Quarter 2017
Amount raised in 2017
Amount Spent in 2017
Cash on Hand
15th Congressional District
U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville
Carl Spoerer, Democrat
Kevin Gaither, Democrat
Anthony March, Democrat
13th Congressional District
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville
Erik Jones, Democrat
Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, Democrat
Jonathan Ebel, Democrat
Dr. David Gill, Democrat
12th Congressional District
U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro
Brendan Kelly, Democrat
David Bequette, Democrat
Pat McMahan, Democrat
Dean Pruitt, Democrat
Adam King, Democrat
Source: Federal Elections Commission