Johnson would welcome run against Hoffman

U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson doesn't get to choose his Democratic opponent in next year's general election. But if he did, it would be former state Rep. Jay Hoffman.

Hoffman, a Collinsville Democrat, announced Thursday that he is looking into running in the new 13th Congressional District and would make his decision by the end of September. Already in the race is Bloomington physician David Gill, whom Johnson has already defeated three times when the two faced off in the old 15th Congressional District.

Hoffman's close association with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was used against him last year in his unsuccessful campaign for re-election against Republican Dwight Kay of Edwardsville. Hoffman also came in for criticism earlier this year when, as a lame-duck legislator, he voted for a 67 percent state income tax increase in the closing days of the old 96th General Assembly.

"I guess given the fact that there's a long history of votes that I would say are safely out of the mainstream of the people of this district, for example nearly doubling the income tax in a lame duck session of the Legislature, I'd rather run against somebody who's been a part of the problem," Johnson said Friday.

Johnson pledged that he "won't run a negative campaign in any way against either one of them."

On other issues Johnson said:

— He will attend President Obama's speech on jobs and the economy scheduled for a joint session of Congress on Thursday night. One of Johnson's Illinois colleagues, Rep. Joe Walsh, R-McHenry, announced earlier this week that he will skip the speech. The freshman congressman was backed by the tea party in the 2010 election.

"My gosh, what could be a worse message, to be sending out press releases that I'm not going to the president's speech?" responded Johnson.

— He hopes Obama offers a realistic jobs program. "I hope we don't have a repeat of the 2009 stimulus debacle where we spent 90-some percent of the stimulus dollars for what I believe were nonjob-creative activities," Johnson said. "I hope the president comes to us and talks about roads and bridges and culverts, especially things to put people to work.

"I'll tell you what I'm not going to do. I'm not going to sit on the sidelines and bash the president. I may not agree with everything he's set forth, but I think the time has passed when everything that Obama proposes we criticize and everything that we do the Democrats criticize."

— He isn't taking any sides yet in the Republican presidential campaign. "I'm personally the most familiar with and acquainted with and a personal friend of (Rep.) Ron Paul. He and I have served together for all of my 12 years. We have a Thursday lunch every week. I think a lot of Ron's ideas are good ideas but at the same time no one has asked me to endorse them."

He said that is also is "a friend" of Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and said that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney "offers a lot."

Asked if there were GOP contenders he could not support, Johnson said, "I guess I would endorse whoever the nominee is. I think there are a few who will remain unnamed now who would cause me a little concern. The frontrunners for the most part are ones I could accept. I'm more enthusiastic about some than others."

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JeffCarroll wrote on September 03, 2011 at 10:09 am

Why would Tim Johnson need to run a negative campaign when the News-Gazette happily writes sentences such as "Hoffman also came in for criticism earlier this year when, as a lame-duck legislator, he voted for a 67 percent state income tax increase in the closing days of the old 96th General Assembly."?

Thanks to that "lame-duck" session, a report issue last week showed that Illinois increased revenues by 37.7% over the same quarter last year, is one of the top states in increased revenue, and is much further along the way to reducing our debt problem.

Summary:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-01/states-second-quarter-tax-reven...

And original report:
http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs091/1104610489644/archive/110739719...

Now if only we could get congress to let the Bush tax cuts lapse on those making above 250K, then we can begin to make progress at the federal level. Because, mathematically, spending cuts are not going to do it, and Tim Johnson is correct--the best way to get the economy moving would be to improve the demand side with infrastructure improvements and jobs that delivers money into the hands of those who would spend it versus those who would hoard it.

R.U.KiddingMe wrote on September 03, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Golly, gee! You mean that by increasing our personal income tax by just two-thirds, the State's revenue went up? Wow! Who woulda believed it? Just by "redistributing" our money to the state, it's gonna fix everything, right?!

JeffCarroll wrote on September 03, 2011 at 4:09 pm

At this stage, yes, that is what it requires. There have been three significant drivers to the debt increases: Bush tax cuts and the wars are the two largest contributors to the public debt. By 2019, these two factors will account for 50% of the debt load (after interest). Another 30% comes from the economic downturn, the deleveraging crisis caused by the housing industry. Those impacts at the federal level, combined with the economic losses taken by government investment funds, caused the states considerable harm, too. Spending cuts alone will not fix this problem.

Nor will catchword arguments like "redistribution" and "socialist," especially not when you consider that the strongest economies in the world right now with the best healthcare and best social services are social democracies such as Germany, Norway, and Sweden.

But the Unites States is still the best as sarcasm.

Fromthearea wrote on September 03, 2011 at 11:09 am

I agree with Jeff. I also noticed whomever wrote the article for the News Gazette did not note him or herself as the author of the article. Might be nice to know who wrote this.

Mike Howie wrote on September 03, 2011 at 11:09 am
Profile Picture

Thanks for the note. I've restored the byline. (This appeared with a companion story in print, with Tom Kacich's name at the bottom of the print version of this story. When I posted this to the web, I forgot to replace the byline at the top.)

Mike Howie
online editor

ddf1972 wrote on September 03, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Tim Johnson has served for many years in many areas of government. With thanks for his service, I think it is time for new faces in the process of government. Whether any of the current candidates should be the replacement remains highly debatable.