Callis starts distributing petitions in Champaign

Callis starts distributing petitions in Champaign

CHAMPAIGN — Democratic congressional candidate Ann Callis, who came to Champaign on Tuesday to start distributing candidacy petitions, said she has not taken a position on whether the United States should launch an attack on the Syrian government for its alleged use of chemical weapons.

Appearing at the headquarters of the local Democratic Party, Callis promised to take a "learned and very deliberative" study of the issue.

"I wouldn't politicize this issue. I don't think it's a Democratic issue, a Republican issue. This is an American issue that really could affect our national security," said the former Madison County judge who is running in the 13th Congressional District to unseat U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville.

She said she wouldn't feel pressure to support a military strike because it is being requested by President Obama, a Democrat from Illinois.

"I have always conducted my life and public service not to succumb to any type of political pressure, and I think I would owe it to the people who elect me there not to succumb to that type of political pressure," said Callis.

Likewise, she said she declined to take a position on whether she would rule out "boots on the ground," or actual American troops in Syria. Her son, Eliot, is training to be a U.S. Army infantry officer. She said she was told there was a "100 percent likelihood" that he would see combat.

"I don't know (about American troops in Syria)," she said. "I can't say that 100 percent. I'd have to wait and see. It's so rapidly developing."

One of Callis' likely primary election opponents, David Green of Champaign, called himself "a staunch anti-interventionist" and said he is "opposed to any bombing or any military intervention in Syria."

The other, University of Illinois physics Professor George Gollin, called on the U.S. to take the matter to the International Criminal Court.

"First, we get this international law straightened out," said Gollin, also of Champaign.

Callis also said Tuesday that she wants to see the House pass the Senate-approved comprehensive immigration bill, even though Republican leaders in the House have said it is "dead on arrival."

She accused House Republicans of "obstructionism," saying, "There is this wall that is preventing reasonable consensus to break through."

The Edwardsville Democrat said she welcomed Gollin and Green to the Democratic Party primary but would be unaffected by the competition. She also said she "would be willing to debate anyone if it is structured."

"I'm just going to stay focused on my campaign. That's what's great about this country. These gentlemen want to be in this race and I say 'welcome to this race' and we'll see who comes out in March," she said.

Callis needs 733 valid signatures to get her name on the March 18, 2014, primary election ballot. Tuesday was the first day it was legal to collect signatures on petitions. They must be filed by Dec. 1.

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