Nikki Budzinski has only been a member of Congress for about three months, but she already has an election opponent for 2024.
Joshua Loyd, who lives in Carbondale, has filed with the Federal Election Commission as a Republican candidate in the 13th Congressional District. He reported contributing $1,500 in personal funds to his campaign last month, and spending $335 on a website.
That puts him financially well behind Budzinski, the Springfield Democrat who was elected in November to represent the seven-county district that snakes through central Illinois from the Metro East to Champaign-Urbana and was gerrymandered to be a safe bet for Democrats.
Budzinski defeated Republican Regan Deering by 56.6 percent to 43.4 percent and already has $423,752 in her campaign fund for next year’s election.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has targeted 37 incumbent Democrats in the 2024 campaign, but Budzinski isn’t one of them, indicating that Loyd or any other GOP candidate in the 13th District isn’t likely to count on its financial support.
Despite several attempts, Loyd could not be reached for comment. But his campaign website says he is a longtime southern Illinois resident, married and a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. His website says he favors supporting Social Security and Medicare without privatizing the systems, backs infrastructure spending and would oppose efforts to weaken gun rights.
“The problem is not guns; the issue of many gun-related problems stems from mental health, gang violence and self-inflicted incidents,” his site reads.
Loyd’s current home in Carbondale is 80 miles outside of the 13th District. Congressional candidates do not have to live in the district they represent, but they almost always do. Budzinski, in fact, moved into the 13th District the year before she was elected to represent it.
Whoever is the Republican nominee next year will have to do better in the four counties with the greatest number of voters. Budzinski won Madison, Sangamon, St. Clair and Champaign counties, the last two by 31 and 45 percentage points, respectively. Those counties had 214,677 of the 250,434 votes cast in November, or 85.7 percent.
Ammons, Faraci money
State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, and newly appointed state Sen. Paul Faraci, D-Champaign, still appear to be on a collision course to oppose each other next spring in the 52nd Illinois Senate District Democratic primary.
Faraci was appointed to the Senate seat in January, following the sudden death in December of veteran state Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign. Ammons also was interested in the Senate seat and during the appointment process amended her campaign committee report to say that its purpose was to “elect Carol Ammons to the 52nd Legislative District.” Ammons currently represents the 103rd Illinois House District.
That “52nd Legislative District” statement remains on her campaign committee report.
Recently filed first-quarter fundraising reports show both candidates raised modest sums during the period ending March 31.
Ammons raised $2,823, bringing her treasury to $44,096.
Faraci reported a single contribution — $25,000 from the Illinois Senate Democratic Fund. But that carries more than financial significance. It is interpreted as a warning to Ammons that Senate President Don Harmon will back Faraci in upcoming elections, including next year’s primary. Harmon’s fund already has $1.25 million on hand. It spent about $14 million last year helping elect Democrats to the Senate, where they hold a 40-19 advantage over Republicans.
Municipal election turnouts
The usual lamentations followed the usual low voter turnout following the usual consolidated elections earlier this month.
Turnout in Champaign County was 14.06 percent, which is quite low compared with elections in presidential years (75 percent in 2020) but about normal for these local elections that include city councils, school boards, community college boards and park and library district boards. Over the past 30 years, turnouts at consolidated elections in Champaign County have ranged from 12.9 to 22 percent.
Turnout in nearby counties and cities also was low, with Danville reporting 24.6 percent, even with a contested mayoral election, and Decatur reporting a 12.9 percent, highlighted by an uncontested mayoral election.
It’s a nationwide issue, according to a recent report by the National Civic League, which said that a Portland State University study found that only 15 to 27 percent of eligible voters bother to turn out for local elections. The civic league recommended a number of ways to raise that number, including moving local elections to even-numbered years, removing barriers to participation (which have been eliminated for the most part in Champaign County and Illinois), incentivizing voting (including providing a cash lottery drawing for voters) and making the case locally for the importance of local elections.
Missing from their recommendations was a way to encourage competitive races. In Urbana this spring, there were no contested races for city council, school board or park board. The only reason for an Urbana voter to go to the polls was the four-way race for three seats on the Parkland College board. That’s why turnout in the 23 precincts within city limits ranged from 19.7 to 0.35 percent (three voters out of 851 registered in a University of Illinois campus precinct).
By contrast, turnout in the 39 precincts within Champaign’s borders — where there were contested races for mayor, at-large city council seats and school board — ranged from 40.6 to 0.53 percent (also a UI campus area), with many above 25 percent.
Finally, the official election results show that three-term Champaign Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen won all 39 precincts in the city, taking 74.35 percent of the vote in a three-way race. She fell short of 60 percent of the vote in only four precincts.
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April 24, 2023 at 07:00AM