Lee changes mind, won't run in new 13th

SPRINGFIELD — A Springfield Democrat who had been considering running for Congress in the newly drawn 13th Congressional District said Monday he will not be a candidate.

Mark N. Lee attributed his decision to "family considerations" and declined any further comment.

In interviews a few weeks ago, the 49-year-old Lee sounded enthusiastic about taking on incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, and suggested he would not have a problem challenging Dr. David Gill of Bloomington in a Democratic primary next spring.

"I always thought (Gill) was a good guy, and I think he's a good physician, and he can serve the community in that capacity quite well," Lee said at the time.

But a week later, The News-Gazette disclosed that Lee had been censured for misconduct and had his law license placed on probation by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. Both disciplinary actions dated to the mid-1990s.

Even after that revelation, Lee indicated he would press on, saying that he has "been through some tough times.

"I think a good test of whether a person is willing and able to tackle the problems of this district is whether he was able to address and resolve his own issues. And I've done that," Lee added.

Lee refused to say Monday whether the ARDC discipline was a factor in his decision not to run.

He also said he has not decided whether to support Gill in the Democratic primary. At least two other Democrats, Champaign County Board member Brendan McGinty of Urbana and former state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville, are considering the race.

"I haven't made a decision on who I'm going to support yet," Lee said. "I'm going to support someone. Who I'm going to support, I haven't determined."

Hoffman said Monday that he is still "analyzing and trying to make a determination whether or not to go and put the resources together to win."

He said he expects to make a decision by mid-August.

"I think it's looking good. It's just a matter of sitting down with people from throughout the district, which I have been doing, and making sure the support would be there for a challenge to Tim Johnson and then determining whether the resources could come together," Hoffman said.

In addition to the congressional race, Hoffman said he is weighing whether to run for a seat in the Illinois House.

"I'm likely to run for one of those offices," he said. "I'm going to make a decision in early to mid-August.

"My decision is based on whether I'll be able to be effective in Washington and do what needs to be done to help create jobs and opportunity. That's number one. Number two is you want to make sure that if you run you can win. And that means lining up the base support necessary. If I get into this congressional race, it's not going to be to win the primary. It's going to be to win the general. Certainly you have to win the primary, and I'm not going to overlook it. But I've won enough primaries in my life that this is about being victorious in November."

Hoffman, 49, served 10 terms in the Illinois House from 1991 to 2011. He lost his bid for another term last year when he was defeated by Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon.

The new 13th Congressional District extends from Champaign-Urbana as far as the Mississippi River and to the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis. It includes Decatur, Springfield, much of Bloomington-Normal and Collinsville and Edwardsville. It is considered marginally Republican.

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