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.