Two attorneys, Paul Schimpf of Waterloo and Sharee Langenstein of Murphysboro, are vying in the primary to be the Republican candidate in the 58th Senate District.
This is the district represented for the past 20 years by Okawville Republican Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, who decided not to seek re-election because the redrawn 58th District no longer includes his home.
The winner in the Schimpf-Langenstein primary will face Democrat Sheila Simon in the general election in November. Simon, former lieutenant governor, has no opposition in the Democrat primary.
The differences between Schimpf and Langenstein essentially boil down to these: One is perhaps slightly more conservative. The other describes himself as more willing to compromise, and has the backing of Luechtefeld and other GOP leaders.
Schimpf is retired from the Marine Corps and has the endorsement of Luechtefeld.
“I think Dave Luechtefeld has been a model for what any politician should be. He is not a partisan bomb-thrower,” Schimpf said.
He added, “I am much more of a pragmatist than she is. My political rhetoric is much more measured, I think.”
Langenstein, who has worked as a prosecutor and has served as a lobbyist for Family-PAC, Eagle Forum and the Illinois State Rifle Association, said she views herself as the candidate who can better defend Constitutional rights and conservative values.
Langenstein said Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, who is the Senate’s Republican leader, has asked her not to run against Schimpf. Langenstein said Schimpf will be beholden to Radogno — voting the way Radogno wants, and voting for her as the Senate’s GOP leader.
“I find that very telling, in regard to who really has the best interest of the people of the 58th District at heart,” Langenstein said. “I’m comfortable being the outsider. I’m comfortable being the non-establishment pick.”
Langenstein said she has a more conservative stance on issues such as abortion. Langenstein said she “can’t compromise” on her belief that life begins at conception. She noted that Schimpf has said he would seek to make abortion illegal after 16 weeks of pregnancy “as a compromise position.”
How do they feel about Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s handling of the state budget impasse with the Democrat-controlled legislature?
Langenstein said, “I agree with the governor’s overall mission of wanting to balance our budget and bring prosperity back to Illinois. I don’t necessarily agree with every single method that he is utilizing.”
Schimpf said, “I think he has tried to compromise. If I didn’t think the governor was willing to compromise, I would be absolutely livid right now, because our state needs a budget, people are being hurt, and we’re about to go over the abyss. From what I’ve seen, Speaker (Mike) Madigan has not compromised at all, and government has to be about compromise.”
Both candidates said they would support Donald Trump — at least for now — if Trump wins the GOP nomination to run for president.
Schimpf said, “At this point, I am supporting the Republican nominee. If the Republican nominee were to say something that was just, completely clashes with everything I believe in as a Republican, I’m not going to blindly support someone who goes against my core beliefs.”
Langenstein is on the ballot as a Ted Cruz delegate but said, “I will support any capitalist over any socialist, any day of the week.”
Schimpf served as the lead U.S. attorney adviser to Iraqi prosecutors in the trial of Saddam Hussein. In 2014, she ran unsuccessfully for attorney general against incumbent Lisa Madigan.
Both Schimpf and Langenstein are graduates of Southern Illinois University School of Law.
The district covers all or portions of the following counties: St. Clair, Monroe, Randolph, Washington, Jefferson, Perry, Jackson and Union.
The primary election is Tuesday.