Field still unsettled for 13th District

One of these days, the race for the Democratic nomination in the 13th Congressional District will settle down.

But that might not occur until Dec. 5, the last date for candidates in Illinois to file nominating petitions for congressional races.

At one time, there were as many as five Democrats looking at running in the new district that runs from Champaign-Urbana over to the Mississippi River and down to the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis. But Greene County State's Attorney Matt Goetten took himself out of the race last week, and others may follow.

The Republican candidate likely will be six-term incumbent Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana.

And it's possible there could be just one or two Democratic contenders.

Here's a rundown of the candidates or possible candidates:

— Former state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville, who announced last month that he would run in the 13h District, now is looking into running in the 12th District, currently represented by retiring Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville. Hoffman actually lives in the 12th District and it is considered to be slightly more favorable to a Democratic candidate.

Hoffman and his supporters continue to pass nominating petitions in the 13th District, said Scott Kennedy, Hoffman's campaign manager. But he offered no promises that Hoffman would remain a candidate in the district.

"There's nothing new to report," Kennedy said Thursday, "and I can't tell you when there will be."

— James Gray, a retired educator from Litchfield, announced last month that he was running to be the Democratic nominee in the 13th, but now may drop out.

"It's a long story," Gray said Thursday, "but it comes down to the fact that last week I was approached by some county chairmen and my former state representative (Gary Hannig) who asked me to back out of the race and support Jay Hoffman. And I could support Jay Hoffman. I prefer him to David Gill (the Bloomington physician who already has run three times against Johnson). I was all set to go to Madison County last week and announce for Jay.

"But then Jerry Costello decided to retire and they told me to wait, that they're waiting for someone to jump in and run for Costello's seat, and that that someone could be Jay Hoffman. So I'm going to wait another week, let the dust settle and see what's going on. I'm just kind of in limbo now."

Gray said he has three options: run for Congress, run for state representative or not run for anything.

"I've been out getting signatures for my petitions, and people tell me they're really excited that a nonpolitician would run for Congress," he said, "but now I've got some family problems that could end up taking up a lot of my time and energy anyway."

— Urbana Democrat Brendan McGinty, a member of the Champaign County Board, said he still finds the race "intriguing."

"If Jay's out, I'm going to look at it again," McGinty said. "I can get in and get in quickly. But I would need to talk to some people."

— Gill remains the only certain candidate. He sent out a press release earlier this week, suggesting that Hoffman "needs to decide who and what he's fighting for."

"The point of our press release was to say, 'Hey, they just came into our neighborhoods two or tree weeks ago to say that he wanted to go to Washington and work for jobs for all of us,'" Gill said Thursday. "Was that just talk? Because when you ask if he's running in Illinois 12, they don't say no. Is it just another sign of the career politician nature of this man that he can't even decided where he's running?"

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