URBANA — The three candidates in the 13th Congressional District have agreed to an hourlong debate at WILL-TV just five days before the Nov. 6 general election.
For now, the Nov. 1 date in Urbana is only scheduled meeting among Republican Rodney Davis, Democrat David Gill and independent John Hartman.
The 13th Congressional District runs from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast through Decatur, Springfield and parts of Bloomington-Normal, down to the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis. It includes 14 central and southwestern Illinois counties.
WILL-TV, WILL-AM and WCIX-TV will broadcast the debate live at 7 p.m. The event is sponsored by Illinois Public Media, the League of Women Voters of Illinois and WCIA-TV and WCIX-TV, The debate will be moderated by Jim Meadows of Illinois Public Media.
Also broadcasting the debate live will be public television stations WEIU in Charleston and WSEC in Springfield.
WCIA-TV will rebroadcast the debate at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3. WILL also will rebroadcast it, at 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6, the night before Election Day.
All three candidates also have been invited to appear on WILL-AM's "Focus" program. Hartman appeared Sept. 18, Gill is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 10, and Davis' appearance has not been scheduled.
It's uncertain whether the three candidates will appear together at any other event. The Davis campaign said Friday that it had agreed to a joint appearance in Collinsville on Oct. 5, but a Gill spokesman said the Democrat would not be able to attend.
The Gill campaign said it had committed to an October debate at Illinois State University, but that Davis would not be able to make that date.
Hartman, meanwhile, has said he would be able to attend almost any scheduled meeting among the candidates.
Also Friday, the Federal Election Commission reported that the amount of so-called "independent" expenditures in the congressional race amounts to more than $800,000. The independent expenditures are those made within the congressional district but supposedly not in cooperation with a candidate's campaign committee.
Almost half of the amount — $400,224 — has been spent by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on television ads opposing Davis.
Others spending money on the race include the National Republican Congressional Committee, the American Action Network and the New Prosperity Foundation, which have run or are running anti-Gill ads.
The Service Employees International Union's committee on political education reported investing more than $700 on pro-Gill campaign literature.
The $808,981 poured into the 13th District by independent groups ranks fourth among all 18 Illinois congressional districts this fall. The greatest amount — more than $1.2 million — has been spent in the 12th District race in southwestern Illinois between Democrat William Enyart and Republican Jason Plummer.
And Davis' campaign announced Friday the formation of a "Doctors for Rodney" group that is supporting Davis. The physicians, according to Davis, oppose the single-payer health care system advocated by Gill, who is an emergency room physician.
"What I have heard from physicians, nurses and many others in the health care field is that we need to get government out of the way so they can truly carry out the job they love: providing care for those in need," Davis said. "These physicians have stepped forward to provide input for what we need to craft a true market-based approach to health insurance and I am honored for their support."
The physicians include Allison Jones of Urbana, and Stuart King of Champaign.