13th District candidates have final debate

13th District candidates have final debate

URBANA — Two of the three candidates for the 13th Congressional District seat said Thursday that they would oppose an increase in the federal gasoline tax, even to pay for widespread infrastructure repairs after Hurricane Sandy.

The candidates met for the final time Thursday night at WILL-TV in a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Illinois, Illinois Public Media and WCIA-TV and WCIX-TV.

"I won't support any increased tax on people that are making less than $250,000 a year," said Democrat David Gill. "It's those people that are struggling already to fill up their gas tanks."

Republican Rodney Davis of Taylorville said he also would oppose an increase in the tax that was last hiked in 1993 and which reportedly has lost one-third of its buying power because of inflation and the use of more fuel-efficient cars.

"I'm not looking to raise taxes on gas or on anybody here in this country," Davis said.

Only independent John Hartman of Edwardsville, who polls say is supported by fewer than 10 percent of the voters in the district, said he would support a federal gas tax increase.

"We need to increase taxes on gasoline," said Hartman, "but the more profound question is climate change. We need to make carbon emissions more expensive."

Hartman also was apart from Davis and Gill on expanding federal aid to college students.

"We don't have any money on the federal level to provide for increased student loans. To me, the frontier there has to be getting costs under control," he said.

But Gill said he "would certainly make (federal) Pell Grants far more available than they are today," although he did not specify how he would pay for the increase.

Davis also said he would "increase access to Pell Grants," adding that he "would not have supported the (Congressman Paul) Ryan budget" that would slash funding for Pell Grants.

"I'm not going to support cuts in Pell Grants to students that attend these universities and colleges," he said.

The candidates all said they would not be willing to go to war to prevent Iran from firing a nuclear weapon at Israel.

"We need to ensure that Iran is held accountable, but I'd first exhaust all diplomatic actions while standing shoulder to shoulder with the country of Israel before we commit troops anywhere in the globe," Davis said.

Hartman said "even bombing (Iran's) nuclear capabilities would be counterproductive. I think it would rile them against us as well as the Arab world against us."

He said "they are no worse of a threat than Pakistan is; if they develop the nuclear capability, we'll have to live with it."

Gill said "diplomatic solutions and very severe sanctions are doing the work that they were intended to do."

He said he hoped the next Congress would work with President Barack Obama "to get to a position where we don't have to put American life and limb on the line. We've had enough war."

On other issues, Davis said he was unable to explain why retiring U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, had not endorsed him.

"Tim and I have chatted," he said, then he quickly thanked Johnson "for serving this district."

"I don't plan on trying to fill the shoes of Tim Johnson. What I plan to do is use my experience working for another member of Congress (John Shimkus) for the last 16 years, helping countless constituents break through the bureaucracy in Washington," Davis said.

Gill, meanwhile, again failed to explain what he had earlier said was a special "grass-roots" account at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that was made up of small donors, not large corporations and political action committees. Gill has stated repeatedly in his campaign that he does not accept corporate contributions.

"They've got millions of online, small contributions from ordinary men and women, similar to the type of money that's funded my campaign," he said, although he could not name the account. "I know it's not from Exxon-Mobil. I know it's not from Exelon."

Hartman, meanwhile, said he was running his longshot campaign "because I'm not comfortable, ethically, to just sit on my couch ... and not do anything. Like I said earlier, democracy works when leaders emerge and stand up for what they believe in."


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Political Observer wrote on November 02, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I have a few initial reactions, after reading this article:

1. It’s interesting how Rodney Davis has different answers to the same question, depending on who his audience happens to be at the time.   As this article points out, in the WILL-TV studio debate last night:


 Davis also said he would "increase access to Pell Grants," adding that he "would not have supported the (Congressman Paul) Ryan budget" that would slash funding for Pell Grants.

"I'm not going to support cuts in Pell Grants to students that attend these universities and colleges," he said.


     However, when Rodney Davis was debating with 3 fellow Republicans at the Hilton Garden Inn in Champaign, trying to win the beauty-contest race and be selected by the Republican County Chairmen in the district as their candidate against David Gill in the November 6th election, he didn’t give an answer anything like that, when the question of student loans and debt came up.

     No, Sir!  He didn’t mention anything about wanting to increase access to Pell Grants.  Instead he said that in many cases people didn’t even know how much their loans were going to cost them; he said that he  knew this from back in his own college student days 20 years ago.  He said it was like the mortgage crisis when the bubble burst, and people [who held the mortgages] thought they were “blameless!”  He said that he wants to make sure that students know exactly what their loans are going to cost them, and that students may then make different decisions if they know how much their student loans cost, i.e. they may “take a part-time job,” or “go to a community college for 2 years.” 

     In other words, for the Republican County Chairmen and his largely Republican audience, Rodney didn’t want to talk about increasing  students’ access to Pell Grants.  Rather he wanted to say that the students should be made aware of how much debt they already had, and then they should think about going to a community college for 2 years instead… or go out and take a part-time job!

     And, by the way, you don’t have to take my word for this, if you don’t want.  You can watch it right here, at 1:55 into the video, when Rodney Davis starts giving his answer:


2. The panel of questioners in the debate missed what is probably one of the most significant issues in this election, the question of who the Mystery Man, Rodney Davis, really is.

Davis has been out of college for 20 years now: For the first 4 years after college, he worked for the convicted felon George Ryan in the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, while the Bribes for Driver’s Licenses Scandal was going on that (years later) helped to send Ryan to prison.  Yet despite working right where this scandal was taking place -- on Ground Zero of the ongoing criminal activity, if you will -- he’s always claimed to be completely oblivious to what was actually happening  right around him at the time.  In fact, in his WILL radio interview with Craig Cohen, he only mentioned how great it was to work during those 4 years with, “People  doin’ a great job in the Secretary of State’s Office!”

For the remaining 16 of the 20 years Rodney’s been out of college, he’s worked very closely with his boss, mentor and hero, Congressman John Shimkus, who he says he met a week after he graduated from Millikin University.  Unfortunately for us here in the new 13th Congressional District, Davis has become a virtual clone of Shimkus, who is known nationwide as one of the dimmest bulbs in Congress.

One of the stories that Shimkus and Davis repeat over and over again in their various public appearances is the supposedly “tragic story” of how Peabody Mine #10 in Kincaid, IL, near Rodney’s hometown of Taylorville (where he once ran for mayor, and lost), was closed down because of “Government Regulations,” and, as a result, coal for the power plant across the street from the mine had to be shipped in by train from “out west.”

The part of the story that Shimkus and Davis repeatedly leave out, of course, is that what they refer to as these supposedly terrible “Government Regulations” were, in fact, President George H. W. Bush’s “Clean Air Act of 1990,” that was passed by a large bi-partisan majority of Congress and proudly signed into law by President Bush (Sr.)!  They also conveniently “forget” to point out that one of the areas of emphasis in this legislation was to cut down on sulfur-dioxide power plant emissions that produced acid rain that harmed the environment and caused serious health problems!

Can you believe the dishonesty inherent in what they’re doing?  Shimkus and Davis have been saying in their public appearances that they want to create thousands of Illinois jobs for coal miners at places like Peabody Mine #10 and other Illinois coal mines, by simply making changes in burdensome “Government Regulations.”  What they never get around to mentioning, though, is that they want to GUT President George H. W. Bush’s Clean Air Act of 1990, go back to burning  the high-sulfur coal of Illinois coal mines in Midwest power plants, and thus re-create all the terrible problems like Acid Rain that you get when you start dumping tons of sulfuric acid into the environment!

There’s more details about the Shimkus-Davis Advocacy for Acid Rain (and links to videos featuring the bumbling John Shimkus) here:


3.  Here's a typographical errror you may wish to correct in the article... In the following paragraph, the 4th from the end of the article, the second to last word should be “Davis,” so that it reads, “Davis said” instead of “David said.” [That does change the meaning  of the paragraph quite a bit, you know…]

"I don't plan on trying to fill the shoes of Tim Johnson. What I plan to do is use my experience working for another member of Congress (John Shimkus) for the last 16 years, helping countless constituents break through the bureaucracy in Washington," David said.

Mike Howie wrote on November 02, 2012 at 5:11 pm
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Thanks for pointing out the typo, though I'm sorry you had to. It's fixed now.

Political Observer wrote on November 02, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Thanks for fixing it, Mike.  It's good to know that the News-Gazette always reads the comments here and quickly fixes the typos, even if they completely ignore the substance of the messages themselves, and mindlessly continue supporting Davis' and Shimkus' efforts to make us the laughingstock of the rest of the civilized world...All in a day's work, I suppose..  ;-)

[Just for the record, I too have been in similar employment situations, although perhaps not quite as bad as working at the News-Gazette.]

Political Observer wrote on November 02, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Here’s an interesting experiment: Suppose you take the phrase:

"gut the Clean Air Act"

and copy and paste it into the search query box in a search engine.  You get what Google estimates to be “About 33,900 results!”

But how many times has the News-Gazette or other 13th Congressional District “mainstream media outlets” told you that Congressman John Shimkus and his 16-year employee and protégé, Rodney Davis, want to “gut the Clean Air Act” so they can burn high-sulfur coal from Illinois in Midwest power plants and, as a result, pour tons and tons of sulfuric acid into the environment?!

In fact, that’s a big part of the “Jobs Plan of Rodney Davis!”  It all boils down to this simple equation:

“Releasing tons of sulfuric acid into the environment” = “Thousands of Illinois jobs created mining ultra-dirty, high-sulfur coal!”

Thanks, Rodney!  I hope you and Shimmy Shimkus keep coming up with more of your “brilliant” ideas!

Political Observer wrote on November 02, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Oh, and by the way, in case you want to know how Rodney Davis would vote if he were elected to Congress, it might be instructive to look at how his 16-year boss and mentor John Shimkus has voted.  The link below reports that on a total of 13 major clean air votes in the House of Representatives, Shimkus voted against clean air at every single opportunity!




serf wrote on November 04, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Keep 'em coming.  Some of us are listening.

Political Observer wrote on November 05, 2012 at 12:11 am

Thank you, Mr. Serf, this one's for you (and anyone else who's out there)...I hope you enjoy it...

After seemingly endless months of hearing ultra-blatant lies and new forms of insanity out of one Republican candidate after another (and a big “DITTO!” for the exact same behavior from the Republican corporate media enablers, who amplify and extend the lies and insanity of their candidates), here’s something that will hopefully give a bit of much overdue comic relief just before the election to the ragged and the weary among us.

1. First, read this excerpt of the News-Gazette endorsement of Rodney Davis’ boss and mentor for 16 years, the legendary John Shimkus, and note how proud the N-G seems to be to endorse him, how his views seem to be well within what the N-G considers as“the political mainstream."


“Since he's a guaranteed winner, it's fortunate that Shimkus has done a solid job of representing his constituents in the U.S. House, and The News-Gazette endorses him for re-election. A West Point graduate who holds a master's degree in business administration, Shimkus' conservative brand of politics may not be well suited to the liberal salons included in his massive district, but his views are well within the political mainstream. He will represent it well.”

2. Ha-ha-Ha-ha-ha!!  Whoever wrote that endorsement may well be more of a Dimkus than Shimkus himself!

Now, take a look at this 9-minute news interview with Shimkus, where he has a chance to outline for us some of what he considers the BENEFITS OF GLOBAL WARMING, discussing the new “Northwest Passage for cargo shipping,” “oil and gas recovery under the Arctic Circle,” and his claim that “Greenland is happy to receive tourists and grow their own vegetables!!!”


3. Way to go, News-Gazette! If the intelligence of your editorial board writer(s) fairly represents the intelligence of this Congressional District, then maybe we really do deserve to have Rodney Dimkus and Johnny Shimkus turning us into the laughingstock of the rest of the nation, right here in the Vast Dittohead Wasteland of Central Illinois! (No wonder the rest of the country wants to dump their PCBs in our aquifer!)

4.  Finally, here's some bonus coverage from the Rachel Maddow Show (3/31/09), with Rachel's take on the notion advanced by Shimkus that there's a theological position that we live in a carbon-starved world and that we need to actually be INCREASING the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere...

 Is God starving the Earth of Carbon?  

wayward wrote on November 05, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I'm concerned that Rodney Davis may be a lot more like John Shimkus than Tim Johnson.

Political Observer wrote on November 05, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Yeah, well that may be a big part of the reason why Tim Johnson has so far refused to endorse or give money to Rodney Davis.  Johnson used to at least keep up the pretense that he was an environmentally-aware legislator (even if it usually was just an act)...while the Shimkus and Dimkus (= Rodney Davis) twins want to gut the Clean Air Act of 1990, reopen Peabody Mine #10 in Kincaid, IL, mine high-sulfur coal and put tons of sulfuric acid back in the air via power plant emissions, so they can use acid rain to create thousands of Black Lung Disease Jobs in Illinois -- in fact, that's their job plan for putting Illinois back to work!

Tim Johnson (and everybody else in the House) knows that John Shimkus is one of the premiere laughingstocks of the entire U.S. Congress.  Rodney "Dimkus" Davis hasn't made any kind of systematic effort to separate himself from Shimkus -- in fact, it's the other way around, with Davis having made it clear what a great mentor, role model and boss Shimkus has been for him for the last 16 years.  In fact, both of them tell the "same sad story" of Peabody Mine #10 having been shut down, supposedly because of burdensome "federal regulations"...which were part of the Clean Air Act of 1990, passed by a large bipartisan majority of Congress and proudly slgned into law by Goerge H. W. Bush!