The 13th Congressional District includes parts or all of 14 counties, with a lot of rural areas but pockets of urban areas with universities in them. Unlike other districts in Illinois that are represented by a Republican, it isn’t a clear-cut conservative stronghold.
Rodney Davis of Taylorville has represented the 13th since 2013. He has immersed himself in agricultural issues, an important industry for district. He has long admirably called for more civility and less partisanship in politics, an issue that took on new meaning for him when he and other Republican congressmen were shot at last year while practicing for the annual Congressional baseball game by a man believed to have harbored far-left ideologies.
But his advocacy for civility seems less sincere when he largely refuses to publicly call out President Donald Trump — arguably the most uncivil politician in recent history — for his often ugly rhetoric. Davis will say such words shouldn’t come from anyone. Fair enough, but he fails to acknowledge that the president has a larger megaphone and bully pulpit than anyone else in the world.
It’s been tough to watch Davis go from an independent thinker who, just weeks before the 2016 election, asked the now-president to withdraw from the race over the vulgar comments Trump made about women, to being a faithful member of a national Republican Party that at times has seemed to stray from its history as the party of fiscal responsibility.
There was a time Davis could be considered a fiscal conservative, but he voted this year for the $1.3 trillion omnibus budget bill that added more to the national debt, which has topped $21 trillion. While we agree with him that the tax reform plan likely will wind up helping many middle-class families come tax return time next spring, it’s troubling that Davis doesn’t seem too concerned with how much it added to the country’s deficit. If economic growth doesn’t happen the way the GOP hopes it will, who pays for this deficit?
Then there are the accessibility concerns. Davis’ unwillingness to hold town hall meetings has been unsettling and his dismissal of those who disagree with him borders on contemptuous. It’s understandable that he thinks a situation where people scream at him would be unproductive, but he leaves the impression that he feels anyone who disagrees with him is yelling at him.
Davis does have formal meetings with constituents frequently — but those often are situations he can control, such as invitation-only events or tele-town halls where his staff members choose which questions are asked from the thousands of people muted on a phone line. An elected representative needs to listen to everyone he represents, not just the ones who agree with him.
His opponent, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan of Springfield, got into the race for one topic — health care, a deeply personal issue for her. She’s pragmatic enough to know that the Affordable Care Act is not perfect and needs an overhaul, but wants to ensure the solution provides good coverage options for everyone, reduces prescription drug costs and helps those with pre-existing conditions have affordable coverage.
And she has demonstrated her willingness and ability to learn: Since the primary she has gone from expressing Democratic talking points to being capable of delving more deeply into the details on many issues, particularly education, immigration and trade. While holding town hall meetings in all 14 counties of the 13th may have been a political strategy to highlight what Davis won’t do, it’s clear Londrigan came away from those events with a deeper understanding of the issues facing area residents.
Would Londrigan have a steep learning curve if elected? Yes — as do all freshmen legislators. We believe she would chart her own path: She is against abolishing ICE, a favorite cause of some Democrats right now. She pledges to work with Trump on an infrastructure plan. She has a sincere appreciation that law-abiding gun owners have a valuable perspective and should not be dismissed by the Democrats.
We have always liked Davis. We found ourselves nodding our heads with him on priorities he would focus on, including technical education, a farm bill and trade agreements that look out for farmers, and his determination to make the tax cuts for individuals permanent. But we can’t shake the feeling that he has lost touch with the people of the district. Londrigan has demonstrated a willingness to listen to the constituents of the 13th and be their voice in Washington. She is endorsed.
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October 27, 2018 at 05:11PM