State Sen. Kyle McCarter, a Republican from Lebanon, will officially announce Wednesday that he plans to seek the congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, a fellow Republican from Collinsville.
McCarter said he plans to officially make the announcement on Wednesday in Highland. He said he would explain his decision at the announcement event.
A McCarter candidacy would set up a GOP primary in the spring for Illinois’ 15th Congressional District.
Rod Spears, of Maryville, a conservative Republican insider, sent out email notices to reporters Tuesday about McCarter’s candidacy announcement. In the notice, Spears said voters have sent a Republican majority to Congress to stop the policies of Democrats and President Barack Obama — not to compromise with them.
Spears said Shimkus “never got that message. He’s got to go. We wish him well.”
Shimkus said he welcomes the challenge.
“As a free market Republican, I always say that competition is good. With that said, I will strongly defend my conservative voting record, my accessibility throughout the district, and the constituent service that my office provides to the people of Illinois,” Shimkus said.
McCarter first joined the state Senate in early 2009 after former Sen. Frank Watson, who had suffered a stroke, stepped down. McCarter, who owns a manufacturing company, had previously served on the St. Clair County Board. He represents the 54th Senate District, which stretches from southwest Washington County to Effingham.
McCarter later won elections for the Senate seat in 2010, 2012 and 2014. He was unchallenged in 2014. In the 2010 and 2012 elections, he received about 60 percent of the vote.
Shimkus has served in Congress since 1997. He is a former teacher and previously served as Madison County’s treasurer.
Shimkus hasn’t faced a serious challenge in recent elections. He won about 75 percent of the vote in 2014 and nearly 70 percent of the vote in 2012.
The 15th Congressional District starts in Madison County in the east, then fans out as it goes west. It stretches from the Danville area in the north to Massac County in the south.
McCarter doesn’t reside in the 15th Congressional District. A congressional candidate isn’t required to reside in the district he or she seeks to represent, but it can be a turn-off for voters. Much of the territory that McCarter represents in the 54th state Senate district lies within the congressional district.
“Unlike my opponent, my family lives in the 15th District, and we never moved to Washington,” Shimkus said. “And I am proud to be a public servant — from West Point to the Army to teaching to county government to Congress.”
In the state Senate, Republicans are the minority. But in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans enjoy a majority.