Former Term Limit Proponent In Danger of Losing His Congressional Seat in Illinois

Created: 12 October, 2015
Updated: 18 October, 2022
3 min read

In Illinois, an incumbent will possibly be facing a serious primary challenger for the first time in his nearly twenty-year political career.

As reported recently on IVN, Illinois U.S. Rep. John Shimkus of the 15th congressional district announced he was running for an eleventh term, further breaking a promise not to serve more than six.

Challenging Shimkus is State Sen. Kyle McCarter of Lebanon. Serving in Springfield since 2009, McCarter, whose term expires in 2018, is not running for re-election to his current seat,

In talking to Effingham's 97.7 FM, McCarter said, "Washington is broken. And unfortunately, our representative is part of the problem."

"When you make it a career, politicians are controlled by special interests. And what they do is not in the benefit of the people. And I don't know what happens to these people when they go up there. Somehow they drift.

McCarter's theme of complacence in Washington continued when it came to the social issues Shimkus has long trumpeted.

"I didn't see the disgust. I didn't see the anger," McCarter said, referring to Shimkus' visible protest of Planned Parenthood, but which the congressman eventually voted to continue funding through the stopgap budget resolution.

In a reply to McCarter, who said he was in the process of moving, Shimkus issued a statement:

"Unlike my opponent, my family lives in the 15th district, and we never moved to Washington, and I am proud to be a public servant, from West Point to the Army to teaching to county government to Congress."

McCarter currently resides near the line between the 12th and 15th districts. The 12th, currently represented by freshman Republican Mike Bost, is normally more favorable to Democrats while the 15th was gerrymandered by Democrats in Springfield to be a large, single Republican district. The 15th covers much of southern, southeastern, and east central Illinois and incorporates at least parts of 33 of Illinois' 102 counties.

Although Shimkus has support from the GOP at large - it was

reportedly at President George W. Bush's request that Shimkus remain in Congress beyond a sixth term - 2016 is shaping up as an anti-incumbent year. The early polling success of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina, at least among Republicans, testifies to the impatience of voters with the political class.

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Another aspect that may influence a potentially contentious primary is a report from a conservative scoring group that may hurt Shimkus among primary voters.

The Conservative Review, an organization started by political operatives Deneen Borelli and Daniel Horowitz, scores candidates on issues ranging from the Second Amendment to Civil Liberties to Moral Issues and National Defense. As with nearly all of Illinois' Republican representatives, Shimkus received an "F" from the group.

Although Shimkus' broken term limit promise usually comes up during his campaigns, the issue has hardly hurt him politically. In the general elections since his campaign promise was officially broken, Shimkus has usually won with 70% of the vote or more.

As a state senator, Kyle McCarter has more name recognition than many other potential rivals, but his senate district only envelops the western edge of the 15th. He will also contend with the inclination of most of Illinois' elected Republicans -- even term-limit proponents such as Gov. Bruce Rauner -- to support Shimkus.

Yet despite a probable fundraising gap with Shimkus, McCarter is confident he will accumulate enough to compete and give the people of the 15th district a voice.

"Because people are generous," he says, "and if they believe in the cause they're gonna give."

Image: U.S. Rep. John Shimkus / Source: Roll Call

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