Metro-East News

National Democratic Party targets seats held by Bost, Davis

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, who represents the 12th District, and U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, who represents the 13th District, could both be targets for Democrats in the 2018 election.
U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, who represents the 12th District, and U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, who represents the 13th District, could both be targets for Democrats in the 2018 election. News-Democrat

Republican U.S. Reps. Mike Bost and Rodney Davis have caught the attention of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The DCCC has identified seats held by Bost, of Murphysboro, and Davis, of Taylorville, as possible districts to turn blue in the 2018 midterm elections.

A DCCC memo said the Republican-held districts are being targeted for recruitment and potential investment.

“We’re seeing an unprecedented level of grassroots momentum in Illinois,” said Rachel Irwin, regional spokeswoman for the DCCC.

Irwin cited nonpartisan election forecasters, such as the Cook Political Report that moved Davis’ district from solid Republican to likely Republican.

The 12th District, which is held by Bost, had been reliably Democratic for many years, when it was held by former congressmen Mel Price, Jerry Costello and Bill Enyart. Bost defeated Enyart in 2014, and then won re-election in 2016.

The Cook Political Report rated the district an R plus 5 in 2017. In 2013, the Cook Political Report rated the district as evenly split.

The first step to building the largest battlefield in a decade is getting strong candidates into these districts. It’s still early, and investment decisions won’t be made for some time.

Rachel Irwin, regional spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

Bost’s seat was one of 20 seats added to a list of DCCC targets in late May.

His spokesman, however, said Bost will hold on to the seat.

“Rep. Bost is proud to stand on his record in Congress, which includes legislation he’s introduced to help our steelworkers combat unfair foreign trade practices, to empower our farmers and small business owners, and to ensure our veterans get the quality care they deserve,” Bost spokesman George O’Connor said in an email.

He added, “All of these measures have passed Congress or have been signed into law. Rep. Bost continues to receive broad-based support from across the district and across the political spectrum, and we are confident that we have the values, the message, and the resources to stop Nancy Pelosi from taking control of this seat.”

Rep. Bost continues to receive broad-based support from across the district and across the political spectrum, and we are confident that we have the values, the message, and the resources to stop Nancy Pelosi from taking control of this seat.

George O’Connor, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Mike Bost

Davis’ seat was one of 59 seats initially listed in January by the DCCC as possible seats that could flip in 2018.

Davis spokeswoman Ashley Phelps said the third-term congressman welcomes any challenge, but added there is still almost a year and a half until the 2018 general election.

“Democrats drew this district for a Democrat, and Nancy Pelosi needs it to take back the speaker’s gavel, so it’s not surprising he’s a top target for the DCCC, but Congressman Davis has a record of bipartisanship and is working on issues that are important to both Republicans and Democrats — issues like transportation, agriculture, and others — and he’ll continue to do that,” Phelps said.

Both Bost and Davis were among the Republican House members to vote in favor of the American Health Care Act, which still needs Senate approval before reaching President Trump.

“Rep. Bost and Rep. Davis have failed their constituents by voting to strip away health care from tens of thousands of Illinois residents and slapping an age tax on seniors,” Irwin said. “There’s no question their votes will haunt them through Election Day and we plan to hold Reps. Bost and Davis accountable for voting against the health and well-being of Illinois families.”

Democrats drew this district for a Democrat, and Nancy Pelosi needs it to take back the speaker’s gavel, so it’s not surprising he’s a top target for the DCCC, but Congressman Davis has a record of bipartisanship and is working on issues that are important to both Republicans and Democrats — issues like transportation, agriculture, and others — and he’ll continue to do that.

Ashley Phelps, communications director for U.S. Rep Rodney Davis.

Also among the 20 added was U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, a Republican who represents St. Louis-area suburbs.

U.S. Reps. Peter Roskam and Randy Hultgren, Republicans who represent parts of the Chicago suburbs, are also on the DCCC list.

The memo cites the GOP health care plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, President Trump’s disapproval ratings and the ongoing investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“The only way to take advantage of the opportunities created by the national environment is with strong Democratic candidates who fit their districts, are accessible to voters, and can show them what it’s like to be represented in Congress by someone who has their back,” the DCCC memo said.

So far two people have thrown their names into the hat to be the Democratic nominee for the Illinois 12th District: Dean Pruitt of Millstadt and David Bequette of Columbia. Current State Rep. Carol Ammons is considering a run for the Democratic nomination in the Illinois 13th District.

“We’re excited by the Democratic candidates stepping up to run in Illinois,” Irwin said. “As these Republican members continue to vote against the interests of Illinois families, the more interest there is among Democratic candidates to step up and challenge these vulnerable members.”

Republicans have a 238-193 advantage over Democrats in the House. The GOP is set to add to its majority when Republican Greg Gianforte takes his seat after winning a special election in Montana last week.

The midterm elections generally do not go well for the party that holds the majority in the House and controls the White House.

Whether the DCCC goes ahead and puts money behind candidates in the Illinois 12th and 13th remains to be seen.

“The first step to building the largest battlefield in a decade is getting strong candidates into these districts,” Irwin said. “It’s still early, and investment decisions won’t be made for some time.”

Those high-attention (races) generate higher turnout, and higher turnout favors Democrats. Here’s a case where investment in a vulnerable congressional district could pay off in a big way.

Andrew Theising, Political Science Department chair at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

Money from outside groups would help with campaign costs such as television advertisements.

Andrew Theising, an associate professor and the Political Science Department chair at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, said Bost’s election margin in 2016 shows the district can be turned Democratic.

Bost won with 54.3 percent of the vote.

“It would not take much effort to flip that,” Theising said.

Theising said Costello had a strong political organization when he was in office, which included money and volunteers.

“Have those connections been nurtured? Can those connections be reopened for a Democratic candidate?” Theising said. “If the answer to that is ‘No,’ having a source of outside money would be beneficial like the DCCC.”

Theising added the gubernatorial race could draw a lot of attention, as Gov. Bruce Rauner could face a battle in his re-election bid.

“Those high-attention (races) generate higher turnout, and higher turnout favors Democrats,” Theising said. “Here’s a case where investment in a vulnerable congressional district could pay off in a big way.”

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter

2016 results

12th District

  • Mike Bost, Republican - 54.3 percent
  • C.J. Baricevic, Democrat - 39.7 percent
  • Paula Bradshaw, Green - 6 percent

13th District

  • Rodney Davis, Republican - 59.7 percent
  • Mark Wicklund - 40.3 percent

Source: Illinois State Board of Elections

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