Metro-East News

Charlie Meier voted for the state tax increase. Now he’s got a primary opponent.

Donald Moore
Donald Moore

A Madison County Board member is making a run for state representative and setting up a Republican primary in the 108th state House District.

Donald Moore, of Troy, who represents the 2nd District in Madison County, has announced his campaign to unseat state Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville.

“I’m running for office to bring our conservative values and principles to state government,” Moore said. “Our families deserve to be represented by a leader who will stand up and not waver when it comes to seeking a fiscally conservative approach to solving Illinois’ debt problem.”

In his announcement, Moore criticized Meier’s initial vote to support an income tax hike, which was vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Meier voted against overriding Rauner.

“Our politicians failed to balance the state budget, so they are demanding more money from us,” Moore said. “I don’t believe our families, friends and neighbors should be forced to cut their personal budgets to make up for the lack of political backbone to address and recognize Illinois’ runaway debt. A debt problem that we will be passing on to our children if they should decide to continue to live in Illinois.”

Meier was first elected in 2012 and took office in January 2013. He was unopposed in 2014 and 2016.

He defended his votes on the state budget and tax increase.

“I listened to my constituents, which is why I voted against the permanent income tax hike,” Meier said in a statement. “In the end, I supported the taxpayers’ wishes because state government needs to do more with less. We need balanced budgets that don’t spend more than what’s in the bank. We can’t continue to fund new programs such as taxpayer-funded abortions or spend Southern Illinois tax dollars to fund the Obama Presidential Library.”

Meier also said having a primary challenge is part of the political process.

“I look forward to running for re-election, competition is healthy for our democracy as it offers candidates the ability to discuss the issues which are important to the citizens we represent,” Meier said.

The primary is in March, ahead of the November 2018 election.

Moore said he would be to the right of Meier when it comes to fiscal issues.

He said he was asked to run by the Illinois Opportunity Project, which advocates for policies that promote free enterprise. Its members include Dan Proft, who is a fellow at the Illinois Policy Institute and has a weekly show on the Salem Radio Network.

A call and email to the Chicago-based Illinois Opportunity Project were not immediately returned Thursday.

Moore said he does expect financial support from the Illinois Opportunity Project, which is looking to find conservative candidates to run. However an amount has not been determined.

He also said he is expected to raise money himself for his campaign.

Moore said he had not spoken to any politically connected groups about his candidacy.

Moore was elected to the county board in 2016.

“I feel so strongly about the fact we have a representative who says he was going to cut taxes and stand up for us … and (Meier) didn’t do it,” Moore said.

Joe Woodward, the political director of the House Republican Organization, said his group would back Meier in the race.

“Without question, we support our members and yes we will strongly support Charlie Meier,” Woodward said.

Woodward said there are about a dozen house races around the state that are expected to have competitive GOP primaries.

“There’s a wealthy group out of Chicago that is looking to primary our incumbent members (of the) House Republican caucus,” Woodward said referring to the Illinois Opportunity Project.

Woodward said the efforts by the Illinois Opportunity Project is disappointing.

“We have a plan to target the majority,” Woodward said. “Instead of all of us coming together rand working to take back the majority, we have to go through this process.”

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter