Hoffman says he'll seek 13th District seat

CHAMPAIGN — Jay Hoffman, who served in the state House for 22 years and narrowly lost a race for Congress in 1996, said Sunday he will run for the Democratic nomination in the 13th Congressional District.

Hoffman, who lives in Collinsville, said he will formally announce his candidacy at various stops throughout the sprawling new district on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, starting Wednesday in Edwardsville. He'll be at the Illini Union at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Hoffman, 49, already has two Democratic foes, Bloomington emergency room physician David Gill, who has run and lost for Congress three times, and retired Litchfield educator James A. Gray. A fourth potential candidate, Green County State's Attorney Matt Goetten, said he expects to make a decision later this month.

There are two Republican contenders in the district, six-term incumbent Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, and Springfield truck driver Sam Spradlin.

Hoffman told about 100 Democrats at a party picnic Sunday afternoon at the Hays Center in Champaign that he is disgusted with Congress.

"I couldn't believe that so many of these people in the congress are putting themselves ahead of the country," he said. "and sitting out and not doing anything and not running is just something I felt I couldn't do. I spent my life in public service, working to fight for working families and I think this district could use someone who would do that."

Medicare and Social Security apparently will be a major focus of Hoffman's race against Johnson, if they are their respective party nominees.

"We have a congressman from this district who voted to really destroy Medicare as we know it," he said. "We work so hard to know that there's a safety net for others, including seniors, and the congressman from this district, wants to destroy Social Security as we know it."

In 1996 Hoffman was defeated in his only race for Congress by Republican John Shimkus, 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent. Shimkus is still in Congress and under the new congressional district map will represent Vermilion County and parts of eastern Champaign County.

Since losing his bid for reelection last year to Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, Hoffman has worked at the Wood River law firm of LakinChapman.

Hoffman said he hasn't done any polling in the new 13th District, which stretches from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast through Decatur, Bloomington-Normal and Springfield down to the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis.

But Hoffman said he believes he can raise the money needed to defeat Johnson in what is supposedly a district only marginally Republican.

"Tim Johnson is going to be able to raise a lot of money. He's already showed that he's raising more money this time than he has in the past," Hoffman said. "But we think we can put the resources together. The response we've had so far is very encouraging."

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