A Candidate Speaks to Monmouth College
By Ryan Bronaugh
According to most polls, the Illinois 17th Congressional District, which includes Monmouth, is one of many “toss up” districts that the Democrats could lose in this year’s congressional elections.
The Warren County Newswire conducted a one-on- one interview with the Republican candidate Bobby Schilling this week. Schilling is running to replace Democratic Representative Phil Hare who stepped in as the Representative in 2006 after his long time predecessor and mentor Lane Evans, chose to retire. Hare was then elected into the House in November of 2008. According to his website Bobby Schilling, the owner of the small pizza store St. Giuseppe’s Heavenly Pizza in Moline, IL, was inspired by the 2008 presidential election and began considering to run for the House soon after. His endorsements include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney. His website says his support is built at the “grassroots level,” and adds that approximately one-third of his campaign volunteers are registered Democrats.
One issue discussed during our interview with Schilling was the future of the 17th District in regards to its current geographical layout. The District, which was designed to include Democratic strongholds, stretches from the northern area of Sterling, through Moline, as far south as the East ST. Louis suburbs and back north into Springfield, includes Galesburg, Monmouth, and Macomb without covering Peoria, Beardstown, or Jacksonville. Illinois will undergo redistricting in 2011, as is custom for states following a census. Bobby Schilling stated that the redistricting, “has not been discussed,” at this point, but that he believes Iowa’s Congressional map should be used as an example for Illinois. Schilling stated that the unfortunate side to redistricting is that it “allows the politician to choose the voter opposed to the voter choosing the politician.” Illinois will most likely lose a District in 2011, when asked if this is a concern for him Schilling replied, “no matter what happens it seems it will benefit us.” As far as who is primarily to blame for the shape of Illinois’ Districts—Schilling claims, “both parties are to blame.”
We asked Schilling why his campaign, as well as his opponent’s, has chosen to run negative campaign adds rather than adds that focus only on his accomplishments. Schilling said, “Its unfortunate, [positive campaign adds] was the direction we started in. [Hare] comes in with lies and deceit and we must respond by hitting him on his voting record.” Schilling added, “[Hare] has voted 99% of the time with Nancy Pelosi. Why pay someone from our District who is not representing the voice of Western Illinois? We don’t align with Washington elitists.”
Schilling said he has made efforts to reach out to young and minority voters. “I’m not really sure what other Republican campaigns are doing, but we have tried to bring people to our rallies by hosting local popular bands, and by just getting out and speaking to people,” Schilling stated. He claims that he has seen a positive response from minority voters who have approached him on many occasions thanking him for not leaving certain rural areas out of chosen rally locations. “They say that I am a man from under the hills,” referring to an upper-class area of Rock Island where Schilling is from, “but I want to send the message that I am running for all Illinoisans.”
Congressman Hare has so far declined an interview with the Warren County Newswire.