Metro-East News

Schimpf takes 58th State Senate race; says economy will be his priority

Paul Schimpf
Paul Schimpf

Paul Schimpf, a Republican from Waterloo, claimed a victory Tuesday night over Democrat Sheila Simon in the 58th State Senate District race and said improving Illinois’ economy will be his priority when he gets to Springfield.

Schimpf, a 45-year-old attorney, defeated Simon, a former lieutenant governor and daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, according to unofficial results.

Here are the vote totals with 98 percent, or 227, of 232 precincts, reporting results:

Schimpf: 57,691, 61 percent

Simon: 36,484, 39 percent

“We absolutely have to get our economy going again,” Schimpf said late Tuesday. “You know, we are never going to solve all of these problems that we face in Illinois unless we change things where people want to come to Illinois instead of wanting to leave our state. Solving those problems is going to require bipartisan cooperation.”

We absolutely have to get our economy going again.

Paul Schimpf

Schimpf, a retired Marine, said he will try to meet with the other state senators before he takes office.

“The only specific promises that I can make to the votes of the 58th Senate District is that I’m going to work as hard as I can,” Schimpf said. “I’m going to be completely honest with them and I’m going to vote our values.

“But I would not have run if I thought that the situation was hopeless in Illinois, there’s too much talent, there’s too many resources for us to be performing as badly as we are. I think Illinois can move back to its position as a leader of the country.”

Simon called Schimpf to congratulate him.

She complimented him for not running attack ads like so many other candidates did this year.

“This race was a good one in which each candidate respected each other,” Simon said.

“There was so much by way of negative messages this time around that I think our race is a hopeful thing, that two people can run against each other and respect each other and I think that probably Mr. Schimpf will be in better shape as a state senator for not having been attacked in an ugly and personal way.”

This race was a good one in which each candidate respected each other.

Sheila Simon

The V-shaped district stretches from Cahokia to Carbondale and then to Mount Vernon. It includes the southern portion of St. Clair County and all or parts of Monroe, Randolph, Jackson, Union, Perry and Jefferson counties.

“I would like to commend Sheila Simon on running a hard-fought, honorable campaign. She is a tremendous public servant and I hope she will remain active in the public sphere. I am humbled by the trust the voters of the 58th Senate District have placed in me. The challenges our state faces are real and severe. Solving them will require humility, hard work and bipartisan cooperation,” Schimpf said in a prepared statement late Tuesday.

Schimpf said this is the first election he has won.

The two candidates are known for unsuccessfully running for statewide offices in 2014.

Schimpf ran for attorney general but lost to incumbent Lisa Madigan while Simon, a 55-year-old law school professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, ran for comptroller and lost to Judy Baar Topinka.

Schimpf will replace Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, who decided to retire after district lines were changed and his home was located in another State Senate district.

Schimpf said he ran because he wants to “make Illinois a better place” after he retired from the Marines and “decided that I wasn’t done serving the public.”

The BND asked the candidates how they would solve the state’s budget woes.

“We need to reexamine the budget from top to bottom. We must rid the budget of fraud and abuse — and eliminate pet projects instituted by legislators,” Schimpf said.