UI physicist joins race for 13th District

UI physicist joins race for 13th District

URBANA — There are now four candidates — two Democrats and two Republicans — in next year's 13th Congressional District race.

George Gollin, 60, a University of Illinois physicist from Champaign, announced Tuesday that he is joining the race with incumbent Republican Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville, GOP challenger Erika Harold of Urbana, and Democrat Ann Callis, a retired judge from Edwardsville.

In announcing his candidacy before a small crowd on Democrat Day at the Champaign County Fair, Gollin noted that Congress used to "put alliances aside and work together to solve problems that we face. They would compromise to effect solutions to the problems that confronted us. Alas, it is no longer this way."

Gollin asserted that "we need different people in Congress."

Without mentioning Callis, he said that "Congress is a place that's filled with lawyers. Now the law is an honorable profession, but lawyers are trained to argue and trained to dispute facts. What we need are people who work with facts."

What is needed in Washington, Gollin said, are "more facts and less argument."

Gollin begins the campaign — he formally declared his candidacy last Thursday by filing with the Federal Election Commission — at an organizational and financial disadvantage to Callis.

She reported last week that she had already had raised $226,076 as of June 30, and had $211,288 on hand. Callis also the organizational backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Gollin said he was unconcerned about Callis' finances and her head start.

"It's early on. Both of us are very early in this process. I'm known in universities. She's known, I assume, in the legal community," he said.

Nor was he dissuaded by the DCCC's involvement.

"The first time that Rush Holt, who is the older of the two physics Ph.D.s in Congress, won an election for Congress, he wasn't the DCCC's candidate either," Gollin said of the New Jersey Democrat serving his eighth term in the U.S. House. "His advice was, 'Just don't worry about the DCCC. Run a good race, learn how to be a good candidate.'

"David Gill (the Democratic candidate in the 13th District last year) was not the DCCC's pick. I find that David is a wonderful person. I find that his views tend to be close to mine in the things we've discussed. So I think it's best to run the best race I can and not worry about things I can't control."

He said he didn't have a fundraising goal.

"Enough so that I win all the elections that I'm ever in," he joked.

Gollin, who has been exploring a congressional race since April, said he has been encouraged to run by his academic colleagues.

"What I've been doing is talking to my colleagues in higher ed and mostly physics. Everybody has said that this is great," he said. "There's been nobody I've spoken to who's a scientist who's been anything other than wildly enthusiastic about this."

Gollin said he would continue his academic work at the UI this fall.

"I like everything I do. I love to teach. I love to do research with my students. This campaign stuff is very interesting. I think I have an idea of how to balance that all," said Gollin, who has been at the UI since 1989. "There will be gaps in which I can do the candidate thing."

In the spring, he said he will go on unpaid leave.

"I'm going to be taking a salary hit and I will stay on unpaid leave until I lose an election or decide to retire from the House," he said.

Sections (2):News, Local

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
wayward wrote on July 24, 2013 at 12:07 am

Trying to imagine the NRCC trying to attack Gollin -- would they put out a press release claiming that his equations were wrong?

Political Observer wrote on July 27, 2013 at 8:07 am

Uh, I'm sure the memo has already gone out from Rodney Davis Headquarters to recycle their "Dr. Radical" character into "Professor Radical" if George Gollin is the Democratic candidate, or into "Judge Radical" if Ann Callis is the Democratic candidate.  Heck, they can even use many of their same demented, half-wit lies about David Gill all over again!  (That's the great thing about the dim-witted smears they feel they got away with using once already:  Since they weren't true to begin with, that means that "they're just as true" about anyone else who Davis runs against the next time!)


For anyone unfamiliar with how low the Davis campaign and the Illinois Republican Party went against David Gill, here's a reminder (and it includes a link to the photo from the childish "Dr. Radical" flyer that they used against him):




and, likewise, here are a couple of excerpts from a News-Gazette article from last September:

In his previous races against retiring Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, Gill said he never had to contend with negative TV ads, video "trackers" following him at public events, websites calling him "Dr. Radical" or a costumed "Dr. Radical" appearing outside his fundraisers.

While annoying, Gill said he expected the heightened attention. [...]

Gill's biggest complaint is the negative advertising. He said the ads his campaign has aired on his behalf don't attack Davis and claimed the commercials paid for by the DCCC are beyond his authority.

"I have no control over the DCCC and more importantly they have no control over me. They don't tell me what to say and they're not going to tell me how to vote when I get to Washington. Or I'm not necessarily going to abide by any instructions that I'm given," said Gill. "The negative ads running on behalf of me are from them and I have no control over them.

"There are negative ads running against me that perhaps Mr. Davis has no control over. But he does control Rodney Davis for Congress and they're running a lot of lying, negative material about his opponent, me.



bambenek wrote on July 24, 2013 at 10:07 am

Prof. Gollin taught my special relativity and it made me cry.  Anyone who assaults innocent physics undergrads with upper-level math is obviously unfit for Congress. ;)

Political Observer wrote on July 27, 2013 at 8:07 am

Any professor who has John Bambenek as a student in his classroom should automatically be nominated for an "Above and Beyond the Call of Duty" Teaching Award!


ROB McCOLLEY wrote on July 27, 2013 at 3:07 pm
Profile Picture

 "more facts and less argument"


That's what the parties do. So the question is why he's running within the party structure.

Political Observer wrote on August 06, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Maybe because he wants to win the election and go serve in Congress?!

So who is the most recent person to run "outside the party structure in Illinois," and then get elected to Congress?