Choosing to leave his seat in the Illinois General Assembly, State Representative Mike Bost is hoping to capture Illinois' 12th congressional district in Washington. He is challenging incumbent Bill Enyart, a Democrat who is in his first term.
Bost, a southern Illinois Republican who has served in the Illinois House since 1995, will formally announce his candidacy in Belleville on Monday. To date, Bost is the first major Republican to announce for the seat.
During his tenure in the General Assembly, Bost has been known for his outbursts.
In 2012, Bost's gyrations on a pension reform bill became a You Tube sensation, climaxing with the representative exclaiming biblically, "Let my people go!" In April of this year, Bost had a similar eruption, also captured on You Tube, about changes to a concealed carry bill. The exchange was part of a contentious argument with a Democratic member of the chamber.
One of the major likely issues in this race will be jobs. One of the major industries in the district is Scott Air Force Base, located in Shiloh, and is the largest employer in the district. It was also one of the major issues in the 2012 race.
In the latest jobs report for Illinois, the state's unemployment rate fell to 9.2 percent, but overall the state still has a lack of confidence.
Enyart, a former soldier and Illinois adjutant general, has spent his brief time in the U.S. House of Representatives aligning himself with positions of national security hawks. He voted for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and voted against Rep. Justin Amash's amendment to defund the surveillance programs of the NSA.
Enyart also introduced the JOBS Act. Standing for Job Opportunities Between our Shores, it is an initiative designed to provide training programs at area community colleges for workers who have lost jobs to obtain new skills.
Prior to his announcement, Bost, who is also a veteran, told local media he is running to fight against government overspending and to deal with immigration. He also said (perhaps making an appeal to the district's Air Force base):
"I was around when (former president) Jimmy Carter cut the military. That's why we failed to save the hostages in Iran and get them out of Iran. And we were using equipment at that time we had left over from Vietnam. . . . That sent a clear message then and it does now we are not a force in readiness and we need to be."
Although much of the southern half of Illinois trends Republican, the district has been held by Democrats since 1993 and Enyart won in 2012 with 52 percent despite a Green Party candidate receiving about 6 percent.
The newly redrawn district covers much of the southwestern corner of Illinois from East Saint Louis in the north to the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to the south.
In only his first term, Bill Enyart is far from an entrenched incumbent and has already had a slate of fundraising events this spring and summer. Bost is sure to provide some excitement, but will have to see if he can generate more support and fewer You Tube moments.