Tuesday’s primary election saw two Republican incumbent congressmen from Madison County facing challenges from conservative Republicans, but in both cases, the incumbents held off their opponents.
U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, was comfortably leading state Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, in the 15th Congressional District. Shimkus is seeking his 11th term in Congress as he faced his first primary challenger in 20 years. McCarter said he chose to run because he felt Shimkus and other House Republicans had been too conciliatory to the executive branch and had “given away the store” in negotiating with Democrats and President Obama.
But Shimkus began leading early in vote totals, reaching more than 60 percent of the preliminary vote total. At 9:45, he issued a statement thanking voters and volunteers for their support.
“I’d also like to thank my opponent for a hard-fought campaign,” Shimkus said. “I’m honored and humbled to be able to continue to serve the hardworking families of central and southern Illinois.”
It was not known whether McCarter had officially conceded the race, and he could not immediately be reached for comment. McCarter was to watch returns at an event in Effingham; Shimkus spent election night in Washington, D.C.
There was no candidate slated in the 15th Congressional District on the Democratic side to oppose Shimkus in the general election. Shimkus had earned endorsements from Gov. Bruce Rauner, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Rifle Association and Illinois Farm Bureau.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) easily defeated Maryville pharmacist Ethan Vandersand. Like McCarter, Vandersand ran on a conservative campaign accusing Davis of not being conservative enough for Republican values. Campaign spokeswoman Ashley Phelps confirmed that Vandersand had conceded the race as of 9:30 p.m.
“I first ran for Congress on the promise of governing and making the tough decisions now so that decades later my children and grandchildren don't look back and say, 'I thought you fixed that?' Three and a half years later, I can say we've made progress,” Davis said.
“Just think what we could do with a president who understands the impact a 19-trillion-dollar-debt and government overregulation has on our economy's ability to create jobs that not only allow Americans to pay their bills but get ahead. That's what this election is about--it's about which future you want.”
In November, Davis will face Democrat Mark Wicklund of Decatur, a 47-year-old former steel worker whose son was disabled after serving in Afghanistan.
15th Congressional District, Republican primary
▪ John Shimkus: 61.3 percent, 68,506 votes
▪ Kyle McCarter: 38.7 percent, 43,248 votes
89.6 percent of precincts reporting
13th Congressional District, Republican primary
▪ Rodney Davis: 76.8 percent, 65,414 votes
▪ Ethan Vandersand: 23.2 percent, 19,778 votes
95.7 percent of precincts reporting