Democrat Paul Lange, running for Congress in a district that gave Donald Trump 72 percent of the vote in 2020, knows he’s something less than a longshot against incumbent U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, R-Oakland, who bulldozed another incumbent Republican two weeks ago.
“I think I have a chance,” said the Quincy man who last ran for public office (and lost) as a candidate for state representative in 1994 and 1996. “Is it a large chance? No. But you know, I grew up a fan of the Baltimore Colts and the Baltimore Orioles.”
“In 1969, the New York Jets were given no chance against the Colts, and we know they won the Super Bowl,” he said. “And the Mets that year weren’t given much of a chance against the Orioles in the World Series. My teams lost, but I do appreciate the underdog thing.”
Lange is running in a 35-county district that stretches from Quincy to just south of Danville and from the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis north almost to the Quad Cities.
He’s unknown, while Miller, a conservative firebrand, won the endorsement of Trump and rolled over 13th District incumbent Rodney Davis by 15 percentage points in a primary infused with about $10 million in TV advertising. Miller has a battle-tested campaign team, while Lange is on his own. Miller had more than a half-million dollars in her campaign fund a month ago; Lange has nothing.
In fact, he’s still working as a commodities broker, a profession he came to in his 40s after earning degrees from John Wood Community College and Quincy University.
“My plan is to retire pretty quickly now, maybe in a month or so. I need to campaign full time,” Lange said. “I’m not your ideal candidate. I’m 67, I used to teach classes at Quincy and John Wood, but I’m not used to talking to people publicly. I’m going to have to brush up on that.”
Among things he doesn’t have to brush up on are the issues that motivated him to run. He’s a traditional Democrat who isn’t modifying his positions to appeal to the largely rural, conservative voters in the 15th Congressional District.
“I wanted somebody on the ballot to fight for certain Democratic things,” said Lange, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
“Voting rights,” he said. “I’m going to talk about how a certain group of people on Jan. 6, 2021, didn’t like the way the election went and meant to change it against the will of the majority of the people in this country. Then you look at what some of the states are doing in terms of curtailing the way people can vote, such as mailing in ballots.”
Preserving Social Security is vital, he said, and shouldn’t need to be re-enacted every five years, as proposed by U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.
“I think a lot of people in this district really depend on it,” said Lange, who told how his widowed mother and her six children relied on Social Security after his father died when he was 6 years old. “My mother was able to keep us together with the help of Social Security.
“I don’t want us cutting people’s benefits. And I know that some people at 62 even, their body is done. They’ve worked hard all their life, maybe as a truck driver or a construction worker. They are physically done. And so I’m not for raising the age limit for retirement.”
He thinks the country should consider deciding some issues by way of national referendum.
“When you look at some of the issues that have come up like abortion rights or gun rights, maybe it’s time to take some of those issues and settle them with a public referendum,” Lange said. “I’d like to know personally throughout the country whether someone under the age of 21 should be able to buy an assault weapon. I don’t think they should but I’d like to know what he rest of the country thinks.”
Lange said he isn’t relying on state or national Democratic committees to support his campaign.
“I wanted to do it myself, and maybe this is a corny reason, but if I can stay as independent as possible then I can listen to all the people in the district,” he said. “If I listen to everybody I’d like to think it makes people feel a little bit better about the government. The government can do good things. It’s done good things in the past.”
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July 11, 2022 at 11:18AM