TROY — Ann Callis announced Monday night that she is running for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 13th Congressional District which includes Champaign-Urbana, Decatur, Springfield and parts of Bloomington-Normal.
Callis, 48, stepped down last Friday as chief judge in Madison County, a position she had held since 2006. That also was the day that one of her potential Democratic Party opponents next spring, Dr. David Gill, was announced by Gov. Pat Quinn as the new assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. Gill, who was the Democratic candidate in the 13th District last year, said he would not seek the nomination in 2014.
But George Gollin, a University of Illinois physics professor, said last week that he also is considering running for Congress in the district that arcs from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to parts of Edwardsville and Collinsville on the southwest.
The Democratic nominee likely will face incumbent Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, in November 2014. Although Davis has not announced that he is running for a second term, he already has amassed one of the largest campaign treasuries of any freshman congressman, reporting $403,555 collected in the first quarter this year. He had $334,203 on hand on March 31.
Andrew Flach, a spokesman for Davis' campaign, said the congressman welcomed Callis and other Democratic opponents.
"This is a true 50-50 district, so it's no surprise that the Washington Democrats have been attempting to recruit candidates from the moment Congressman Davis was elected last fall," Flach said. "Congressman Davis looks forward to debating the issues with his eventual opponent, whoever that may be, at the appropriate time. In the meantime, he will focus on governing and working with Republicans, Democrats and independents on ways to move our country forward."
Davis defeated Gill in the 13th District last November by 46.55 percent to 46.21 percent, in one of the tightest races congressional elections in the country.
The National Republican Congressional Committee was less welcoming in a statement released Monday morning in advance of Callis' expected announcement.
"Ann Callis' record of service includes helping make Madison County a 'judicial hellhole' and being rated one of the worst judges in the state of Illinois. With credentials like that it is no wonder Nancy Pelosi has handpicked her to run for Congress," said NRCC spokeswoman Katie Prill. "Callis should be honest when announcing her candidacy that her plan is to bring her record of incompetency in Madison County to Washington."
Callis was rated poorly among judges in a 1995 poll by the Illinois State Bar Association, but in a more recent poll of lawyers, taken last year when Callis was a candidate for retention, she was "recommended" and 83.64 percent of those responding said she "meets requirements of office."
Three other judges from the 3rd Judicial Circuit, however, received higher scores than Callis. Her lowest score in the judicial evaluations, 82.63, was in the category "impartiality." Her highest scores were 98.8 in "health" and 92.77 in "sensitivity."
Callis lives outside of Troy, in a part of Madison County that is not in the 13th Congressional District. It is unclear if she intends to move into the district, although it is not necessary for a member of Congress to live in the district that she or he represents.
Her son, Elliot, graduated from Cornell University and enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he recently completed Officer Candidate School. Her daughter attends St. Louis University.
It is unclear when Callis intends to make a tour of communities in the 13th District.
Champaign County Democratic Party Chairman Al Klein said Monday that he had not been notified of any Callis trips to Champaign County.
"I'm not looking for her this week," he said.
Champaign County provided the largest share of votes in last year's 13th District race, 54,834 to 48,190 from Madison County, 48,033 from Macon County and 41,104 from Sangamon County.
Champaign County also was one of only three counties in the district (the others being Sangamon and McLean) where Gill defeated Davis last year.
Callis' record of federal campaign contributions includes $2,000 to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
Her record of state campaign contributions is more extensive, dating back to 1995. She gave not only to her own political campaigns, but to Madison County Democratic Party groups, to other Democratic judges, to other county officials and to the campaign of state Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton. In 1995 she also gave $300 to one of the campaign funds of Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan.
Both Democrats and Republicans already have said that they are targeting the race in 2014. In April, the NRCC announced that Davis was among 11 members in its Patriot Program, a "goal-oriented program (that) helps Members stay on offense and fully prepare for their re-election campaigns."
Also last month the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee placed billboards at some locations in the 13th District, accusing Davis of "putting radicalism and partisanship ahead of solutions for the middle class."
Here is the text of Callis' announcement:
Chief Judge Ann Callis Announces her Candidacy for Congress
When Washington has Failed,Judge Callis has Delivered Reforms for Middle Class Families
Citing the need for a proven reformer who can get things done for middle class families in Illinois, former Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis announced today that she is running to represent Illinois’ 13th Congressional District in Congress.
Even as Washington has failed to tackle the problems impacting middle class families, Judge Callis has stepped forward with reforms that have delivered for Illinois. She pushed for a mediation process that allowed families facing foreclosure a chance to stay in their homes. Judge Callis opened more court records to the public. And her work to create the first Veterans’ Court in Illinois led to national recognition from the Foundation for Improvement of Justice – all while returning thousands of dollars of her budget to the taxpayers.
“Like many of my friends and neighbors, I’m frustrated right now that Washington is not listening, and it’s not delivering for the middle class,” said Callis. “As Chief Judge, I've delivered reforms when Washington didn’t, and I’m running to deliver solutions for middle class families who are looking for good-paying jobs, and someone to protect Medicare and Social Security.”
Judge Callis lives in Madison County. Her son Elliot graduated from Cornell University, chose to serve his country and enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he recently completed Officer Candidate School, as a Distinguished Military Graduate. Her daughter is a studying at St. Louis University to be a teacher.
The Illinois 13th was one of the closest House races in the nation last year. Despite the lack of a mandate, Congressman Davis went to Washington and supported a partisan budget that would protect tax cuts for millionaires, end the guarantee of Medicare and raise Medicare costs on Illinois seniors.