A group of Illinois House Republicans has endorsed U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis for re-election — more than 10 months before the Republican primary election.
The early endorsement is a sign that the Davis campaign is taking seriously the candidacy of Urbana attorney Erika Harold, who announced last week that she would challenge Davis in the 13th Congressional District that includes Champaign-Urbana, Decatur, Springfield and parts of Bloomington-Normal and the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis.
The Downstate GOP Caucus, which includes local state Reps. Adam Brown of Champaign, Chad Hays of Catlin and Bill Mitchell of Forsyth, issued a statement saying that Davis "has been a great friend and ally to the families of the 13th District."
Said Rep. Wayne Rosenthal, R-Morrisonville: "In just 150 days, he has proven that he has what it takes to make a difference in Washington. The Downstate GOP Caucus stands as one to endorse Rodney's re-election."
The Downstate GOP Caucus has 29 Republican House members, including Rep. Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon.
"He (Davis) has and will continue to fight for smaller government, traditional family values and our constitutional rights and deserves to be re-elected to Congress," said Kay.
Harold, a former Miss America, a Harvard law school graduate and an attorney with the Champaign law firm Meyer Capel, announced on June 4 that she would run for the Republican nomination for Congress. She has not filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission, however.
Both Harold and Davis were contenders last year when the 14 Republican county chairmen in the 13th District had to choose a replacement candidate for U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson of Urbana, who withdrew from the race weeks after winning the primary election. Davis narrowly won the nomination during a closed meeting of the county chairmen.
Davis spokesman Andrew Flach said more endorsements of Davis from other elected Republican officials would be announced this summer.
The winner of the Republican nomination next March will almost certainly have a Democratic opponent in the district that Davis won last year by four-tenths of 1 percent, or 1,002 votes.
Former Madison County Judge Ann Callis already has announced her candidacy, and University of Illinois physics professor George Gollin said he is exploring a run.