Elections

Republican doctor from Camargo, Illinois, jumps into 15th District congressional race

A 51-year-old family physician is making a run for the congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.

Charles Ellington, of Camargo, Illinois, near Champaign, announced this week his candidacy for the 15th District as a Republican. He has never run for office before.

Shimkus is not running for re-election.

“I support President Trump’s vision, it doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with everything the man does,” Ellington said. “I think it’s been surprising the way he has been treated by the Democratic leadership … He’s done quite a few things that have been great for our country.

“The issue with Syria, has been extremely complex. I wasn’t pleased, when we withdrew support from the Kurds, but I have to believe there is more to the story than what we know.”

Ellington said his lack of previous political experience may help him.

“I think my record of being educated or being informed of having a background in health policy, having experience, teaching, practicing, understanding, the district itself, growing up in the 15th district, I think I’m a serious candidate, a good candidate,” Ellington said.

Ellington recognizes the job may not be around after the 2021 redistricting, but it doesn’t bother him saying he would come back and perform rural medicine if he’s elected to only one term.

“I think because each person has to stand up and take a stand and do what they can to make this country better,” Ellington said. “Personally, I’m not in this to build a political dynasty, and I think that’s why you haven’t seen a lot of candidates enter yet. I look at this as more of a social and civic responsibility to do.”

So far, Alex Walker, of Mattoon, Lori Fuller of Collinsville, and John Bambenek, of Champaign, are the only other Republicans to formally launch campaigns in the 15th District.

On the Democratic side, John W. Hursey Jr. is running for the seat, as is Kevin Gaither of Charleston.

Other possible Republican candidates include state Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, Danville attorney Chris Quick, Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler, and Madison County Board member Chris Guy are considering runs. Sarah Frey, who runs Frey Farms in Keenes, also is reportedly being encouraged to run.

The district includes Collinsville but mostly covers southeastern Illinois to the Kentucky and Indiana borders.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

Why did we do this story?

The November 2020 election may be more than a year away, but candidates are starting to organize and begin the process to appear on the ballot. On Sept. 3, candidates were allowed to begin collecting signatures on petitions that are required to appear on the March 17 primary ballot. Official filing of petitions is scheduled from Nov. 25 through Dec. 2. The BND will cover the important steps leading up to the election as part of our role in giving you information that will help you participate in civic life and be a watchdog of the candidates and the election process.

Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referenda.
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