Congressman John Shimkus talks about his career and future
U.S. Rep. John Shimkus announced he would not seek re-election Friday afternoon.
Shimkus, 61, who serves the 15th Congressional District of Illinois, did not give a reason for his decision.
He made his announcement on KMOX’s Mark Reardon Show. He said over the congressional break he took time to visit his district to make sure he was making the right decision.
“This was my last chance to get out there and figure out if this is what I wanted to do,” he said. “I traveled the district the whole break just doing my job. I didn’t want it to be a farewell thing.”
On the program, he also said he hadn’t told many others about his decision.
Shimkus’ 12th term will be his last, after being re-elected in 2018 when he defeated Democrat Kevin Gaither with 71 percent of the vote. He was first elected in 2013 in the 15th Congressional District and before that represented Illinois’ 19th Congressional District.
In a news release, he said that it was the right time to announce he would not seek re-election.
“As Illinois candidates begin to circulate petitions next week, now is the time for me to announce that I will not be seeking re-election,” he said in the statement. “It has been the honor of my lifetime to be asked by the people of Illinois to represent them in our nation’s capitol. Each day I have tried to do this as best as I possibly could, and my success lies squarely at the feet of my incredible staff in Illinois and Washington, D.C.’’
Shimkus is a lifelong resident of Collinsville. He earned his M.B.A. from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville after earning his bachelor’s degree at the United States Military Academy and serving in the military for five years.
He said he leaves the field believing he served his constituents, Illinois and the country honorably.
“Serving in Congress has been a blessing, but it has also been a sacrifice for my wife Karen, and our boys. Now young men, David, Joshua and Daniel continue to make me proud. I regret the times I have been away from the four of them and thank them for their constant love and support,” he said.
Shimkus was not available for further comment after the announcement.
After the announcement, U.S. Rep Rodney Davis called Shimkus one of “the best members” of congress he had ever known and said while he will be missed in Washington, his family will be happy to have him home.
“I had the pleasure of working for and learning from John Shimkus for 16 years. He taught me the importance of constituent service and making the federal government work for the people you represent,” he said in a prepared statement. “John has served the people of Southern Illinois honorably for more than 20 years and it’s been my honor to serve alongside him in Congress for the last six.”
Kent Redfield, a longtime resxpert on Illinois politics, said Shimkus most likely declined to run again due to the sheer amount of terms that he’s served. He added that with Shimkus’ his decision, the 15th district is likely to become a “free-for-all.”
“An open seat like this is likely to generate a lot of interest. You’re going to have a lot of people putting their toe in the water looking to see if they can get some traction,” he said. “For people who are inclined and think that they can put together a campaign this is really going to open up and be a free-for-all.”
He said, for Democrats, however, the district would still be hard to win.
Redfield, an emeritus professor of political science with the University of Illinois at Springfield, added that redistricting from the upcoming 2020 Census will most likely make the district much larger and give the winner of that district a larger population.
“Its likely to be huge just given how the concentration of population has shifted toward northeastern Illinois,” he said.