Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday endorsed U.S. Rep. John Shimkus for re-election in a tougher-than-normal Republican primary fight in the 15th Congressional District, pitting him against an incumbent state senator.
Shimkus, R-Collinsville, is running for his 11th term in Congress against state Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon.
Shimkus and Rauner traveled to six different towns across Shimkus’ vast western district, including Mahomet, Danville, Mattoon, Effingham, and Vandalia. The last event, at Alfonzo’s Pizzeria in Troy, was the lone stop in the metro-east.
“We’re at a key turning point in Illinois’ history, and at a critical junction in American history,” Rauner said. “It’s an honor for me to endorse John Shinkus for Congress.”
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Rauner called Shimkus a “hard worker” and said he is “pro-business.”
Shimkus talked about his goal of mending the economy. “We should not be satisfied with 5 percent unemployment.” Instead, he said the country needs to be at 3 percent or less. Some ways to do this include “easing the regulatory burden” and addressing changes to the Affordable Care Act.
About 20 people were on hand to hear the announcement, with some of them handlers for the two politicians.
McCarter, who announced his campaign in October, has been trying to run on a more conservative platform than Shimkus, whom he accuses of compromising with President Barack Obama.
Shimkus spokesman Steve Tomaszewski said he believes Shimkus has been incorrectly portrayed, pointing out that the representative has endorsements from the National Right to Life Committee, the National Rifle Association, the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Farm Bureau.
Shimkus hasn’t had a “strong challenge in a primary in some time,” Tomaszewski said.
“Competition is good,” Tomaszewski said. “This will make him a stronger and better congressman.”
“My purpose in running is not to make him a better congressman,” McCarter said. “If that was the case, maybe I should’ve run 10 years ago, and he would’ve voted right.”
In an interview Monday, McCarter pointed to what he considered were Shimkus’ broken campaign promises and said the incumbent deserved to be voted out of office.
In 2005, Shimkus “asked voters” whether he could break a pledge to leave office after serving six two-year terms in office, from 1996 to 2008, he said.
Rauner has said that long-time representative officeholders should be subject to term limits, including governor.
“Why would (Rauner) endorse someone who is opposed to him in such a way?” McCarter asked. “Is it just money and power?”