Metro-East News

Brendan Kelly raised $350K for his campaign — a lot of it from prominent Democrats

Brendan Kelly announces run for Congress

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly says he will run for the Democratic nomination for Congress in 2018.
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St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly says he will run for the Democratic nomination for Congress in 2018.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly’s first quarter as a congressional candidate has garnered more than $350,000 in campaign contributions, including some from a top Democrat.

The campaign also said it’s the best off-year quarter by a challenger, according to its research.

Kelly, a Democrat hoping to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, in the 12th congressional district in the 2018 election, has received more than 900 individual contributions.

The campaign said the $350,000 in contributions includes donations from people in all 12 counties in the 12th District, which covers southwestern Illinois from the Kentucky border to the southern portion of Madison County.

According to Federal Elections Commission data, Kelly’s first quarter of fundraising on the campaign trail was better than any quarter by C.J. Baricevic, who was the Democratic nominee for the 12th district in 2016.

The contribution listing, released by the campaign, include money from prominent Democrats, both locally, in the state and nationally, indicating Kelly is a favorite among some establishment Democrats.

Among those to donate are the Political Action Committees of prominent Democrats. Ameripac, a PAC headed by U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, gave Kelly $5,000.

The congressional campaign committee for Hoyer, who serves as the No. 2 Democrat in the House of Representatives, donated $2,000 to Kelly as well.

“Steny Hoyer is the most direct evidence right there of Washington support, but it’s imperative that the DCCC and the DNC check in heavily as this campaign progresses. They have had a history of not doing anything since Mike Bost was elected made it look like they have given up on this district,” said John Jackson, a visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Brendan Kelly File

“Steny Hoyer is establishment, leadership level guy, so somebody out there has noticed this race,” Jackson added.

Cherpac, the PAC headed by U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, who endorsed Kelly in August, also contributed $5,000 to Kelly’s campaign. The campaign committee of U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, who is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, also contributed $1,000 to Kelly.

The campaign committee for U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, and former Congressman Jerry Costello each contributed $2,000.

Bill Enyart, who replaced Costello in the 12th District in 2012, and lost to Bost in 2014, contributed $1,000 to Kelly.

There were $1,000 contributions to Kelly from the campaign committees of state Rep. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis; Williamson County State’s Attorney Brandon Zanotti; Virginia Congressman Don Beyer; Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons; state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert’s campaign committee, Citizens for Eckert, even contributed $250 to Kelly’s campaign, as did Belleville Alderman Roger Wigginton.

Contributions from Kelly’s colleagues in St. Clair County government included $2,700 from County Board Chairman Mark Kern; Sheriff Rick Watson contributed $300; County Clerk Tom Holbrook donated $1,000; Coroner Calvin Dye Sr. put in $800; Intergovernmental Grants Department Executive Director Terry Beach contributed $400, and there was a $250 contribution from Frank Bergman, who handles human resources for the county.

Kelly’s campaign was quick to point out that nearly two-thirds of its contributions have come from people who donated $200 or less.

You can’t win without significant name identification. None of the others now have that name recognition and the party apparatus, to the extent there is one in this district, is clearly behind Brendan Kelly.

John Jackson, visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

“Southern Illinois has taken note of Brendan’s integrity and heart — that’s why we’re seeing a huge groundswell of grassroots support from around the district,” Campaign Manager Sam Barrett said. “People want a fighter that is willing to take on the special interests and take action that improves life here in Southern Illinois, not the bank accounts of the elite. Brendan has proven time and again that he’s willing to take on the establishment like suing Big Pharma and holding Wall Street banks accountable — that’s why folks are joining the Kelly Coalition.”

The campaign credits many of the donations as a result of receiving the endorsement of the VoteVets, a group of progressive veterans and military families.

Area lawyers and law offices that have thrown their support behind Kelly: Brent Gaines, Michael Rousseau, Thomas Ysursa, Thomas Keefe II, Beth Gori, Randy Gori, Jack Kloess, Alvin Paulson, the law firm of Brown and Brown, and Boyle Brasher, among others.

Dean Pruitt, of Millstadt; David Bequette, of Columbia; Adam King, of Alton; Pat McMahan, of Mascoutah; and Chris Miller of Roxana are also vying for the Democratic nomination in the 12th District.

The quarterly reports for other Democrats vying for the 12th District have not been filed yet with the Federal Elections Commission. Quarterly reports for campaigns are due by Oct. 15, according to the FEC.

Bost also has not filed his quarterly fundraising report yet.

“You can’t win without significant name identification,” Jackson said. “None of the others now have that name recognition and the party apparatus, to the extent there is one in this district, which is clearly behind Brendan Kelly.”

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly spoke to the June 14 meeting of the Madison County Democratic Party. He was introduced as a possible "undeclared" candidate for U.S. representative, a seat now held by Republican Mike Bost.

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter