This Throwback Thursday is about two Troy-area boys politicking together 20 years ago.
Bob Daiber, a farmer and industrial arts teacher at Triad High School, had some Democratic heavyweights coming in to help his bid to unseat Republican state Rep. Ron Stephens. Daiber in 1992 came within 259 votes of defeating Stephens, so the big names came to see if they could boost him in 1994.
On Oct. 16, 1994, U.S. Sen. Paul Simon returned to Troy and visited the house he once owned with Daiber and state Rep. Jay Hoffman in tow. Simon was the son of missionaries and as a teen published the Troy newspaper, taking on gambling dens in Madison County and eventually getting the state police involved thanks to his crusade.
“It’s great to be home and I’m pleased to be here to put in a good word for Bob Daiber, and I hope that my word doesn’t do you any harm,” Simon said with a chuckle.
Whether it did any harm wasn’t clear, but it wasn’t enough for Daiber to beat Stephens. Daiber lost by about 4,700 votes. They would meet again, but the 1998 outcome was the same with Stephens on top.
Simon left the U.S. Senate in 1997 and spent the rest of his career as director of a public policy institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He died in 2003 and the institute was renamed in his honor.
Simon’s political career included a stint as lieutenant governor. His daughter, Sheila Simon, is currently Illinois lieutenant governor and will be on the November ballot as the Democratic candidate for state comptroller.