Longtime state Rep. Dan Beiser will not run for re-election, while Wood River Township Supervisor Mike Babcock plans to run for his seat.
Babcock, R-Bethalto, announced Wednesday that he would run again for the 111th District seat, shortly before Beiser, D-Alton, told the Alton Telegraph that he would not run for re-election in order to enjoy his retirement.
Beiser is a former special education teacher, Alton alderman and city treasurer, and was first appointed and then elected to the 111th District in 2004 and 2005. He has been in office ever since. Beiser told the Telegraph that among his public service jobs, he has been working for 42 years.
“It was a big decision,” he said. “I want to enjoy my wife’s retirement with her, and I want to enjoy my retirement.”
Babcock had announced Wednesday that he decided to run for the 111th District again after the state legislature approved an increase in state income taxes.
“The never-ending cycle of tax-and-spend policies crafted by (House Speaker) Mike Madigan and those who enable him has driven this state into the ditch,” Babcock said. “Instead of making the tough decisions necessary to turn this state around, Springfield politicians doubled down on taking more of our money to fund the mistakes of the past. Enough is enough — it’s time for a new direction.”
Babcock, 55, is owner of the Babcock & Associates insurance agency and has served as Wood River township supervisor since 2009. Beiser could not be immediately reached for comment.
Babcock challenged Beiser in 2016, backed by the House Republican Organization and Gov. Bruce Rauner. The HRO donated more than $1 million to Babcock’s last campaign. Babcock lost 47 percent to Beiser’s 53 percent. In 2012, he challenged state Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) and lost by 17 percentage points. Haine, who is battling blood cancer, also has announced he will not run for another term.
“Illinois and the metro-east had always been a leader for the nation. The gateway to the west and the land of opportunity. Full of hard working Midwesterners, blue collar factory workers, and agricultural stewards,” Babcock said. “But times have changed, and government has let us down. Together we can change Illinois for the better and return government to the people.”
Babcock said if elected, his top priorities will be to stop tax increases, fix school funding, address the state deficit and concentrate on bringing more high-paying jobs to the metro-east.
“There will be more people moving out (of Illinois), and they take their wallets with them,” Babcock said. “We can’t afford it anymore ... Michael Madigan is breaking the state of Illinois — he’s destroying the state.”
Babcock’s name was mentioned in a lawsuit recently filed in Madison County by a former employee of the township tax assessor’s office. Sheena Howard alleged that she was ordered to sell tickets to a political fundraiser by her supervisor, Democrat Sandy Shaw. Howard said she reported the instruction to Babcock, but then she was dismissed by Shaw.
Babcock said he had been advised by his attorney not to comment on the Howard suit while it is pending. “I will definitely comment in the future,” he said.
Babcock is a graduate of Lewis & Clark Community College and SIUE with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. He and his wife Carol reside in Bethalto and have three grown sons, Michael, Jonathan and Joseph.