Voters chose Tuesday to keep incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Bost in Congress.
Bost, a Republican from Murphysboro, held off challenges from Belleville Democrat C.J. Baricevic and Green Party candidate Paula Bradshaw of Carbondale in Illinois’ 12th Congressional District.
“I am honored the people of Southern Illinois have entrusted me to represent them for another two years,” Bost said in a statement. “The relationships we’ve built across the 12 counties will last a lifetime, and for that I am truly grateful.”
Bost relied on dominant victories in the rural counties in the district, but he also performed well in the more urban metro-east, an area which traditionally favors democrats.
With 600 of 651 precincts in the district reporting:
▪ Mike Bost: 160,158
▪ C.J. Baricevic: 106,378
▪ Paula Bradshaw: 16,936
In St. Clair and Madison counties:
▪ Madison County: 102 of 102 precincts were reporting with Baricevic leading Bost, 21,028 to 20,816.
▪ St. Clair County: 184 of 191 precincts were reporting with Bost beating Baricevic, 51,559 to 47,707
Shortly after accepting Baricevic’s concession, Bost said he was honored that voters chose to send him back to Congress.
“I feel so honored that they sent me back. But I also see the task before us. We’ve got a lot of things to do,” he said.
Bost’s win marks the second election in a row voters in the district rebuked Democrats who until 2014 had run the show for decades.
“(Democrats) have ruled the district for 60 years, and we’ve watched it slide down, we’ve lost jobs. More people are in poverty,” Bost said. “People are ready for a change. We’ve got to make sure we study and put those changes together and look forward to the future.”
Bost added that his main opponent, Baricevic, ran a good race. He said he admired the newcomer for stepping up to put his name forward and subject himself to the rigors a run for Congress demands.
“It’s not an easy thing,” Bost said. He added that his advice for Baricevic would be to stay involved at the local level.
“Get that experience and grow with it,” he said.
Baricevic said he was “certainly disappointed” in Tuesday night’s result but said that the campaign, as well as the election that ended it, “was democracy as it was intended.”
“Our message was a good one. The reason why I ran was to help people,” Baricevic said. “Tomorrow we’ll wake up and concentrate on how we can keep doing that.”
Baricevic did not rule out running for office in the future, but he said he’s “not in it for titles.”
“(This experience) was great. No regrets,” he said. “Talking to folks in the district was very inspiring. It was truly a blessing.”
Bradshaw said she was happy to get 6 percent but was discouraged by the American response to her party’s platform, adding that polls show Americans are increasingly disappointed with the status quo.
“It’s disappointing that Americans seem to reject (The Green Party platform) and return to the status quo. We need a better option,” Bradshaw said.
Bost, 53, handily won election to Congress in 2014 in an upset over William Enyart, a Democrat from Belleville. Prior to Bost’s victory, the seat had been held by Democrats for decades.
Prior to that victory, Bost represented part of Southern Illinois in the state General Assembly for 20 years.
Baricevic, 31, is a newcomer, having never before run for public office. He practices law at a family firm and is a part-time public defender.
This is Bradshaw’s third consecutive bid for the seat, having also run in 2012 and 2014. She earned 5.6 percent of the vote in each of those prior campaigns.
The 12th District is one of the largest Congressional districts in the state, stretching from Alton in the north to Cairo in the south and from the Mississippi River in the west to the eastern boundaries of Jefferson, Franklin and Williamson counties.
Despite the district’s size and a footprint that captures conservative voters in southern and southwestern Illinois, the district traditionally has favored Democrats thanks to the populous metro-east.