Seventh candidate joins race for Davis' seat
SPRINGFIELD — With two days remaining in the filing period, there already are more candidates for Congress in the 13th District than there were two years ago.
Bill Byrnes, a 66-year-old part-time school bus driver from Bloomington, on Tuesday became the seventh candidate for the 13th District seat now held by U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville.
Byrnes is the fourth Democrat to file nominating petitions with the Illinois State Board of Elections, joining David Green and George Gollin, both of Champaign, and former Judge Ann Callis of Edwardsville.
The Republican candidates are Davis, Urbana attorney Erika Harold and Moro veterinarian Michael Firsching.
Davis said Tuesday that "I feel good where we're at" politically. He noted that both Harold and Firsching had campaigned to get the 13th District nomination last year, after incumbent Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, dropped out of the race. That left it to Republican county chairmen in the district to select Johnson's replacement.
"I plan to campaign in the entire district and get votes everywhere, from very geographical portion," Davis said. "When you come in after Tim won the primary last time and withdrew, and then all three of us submitted our names for consideration. Two of us got pushed into the final four of the nomination process, so I'm not surprised, especially when we only had a 51/2-month campaign, that people want to run this time."
In March 2012, there were five candidates in the 13th District primary: Republicans Johnson, Firsching and Frank Metzger, and Democrats David Gill and Matt Goetten.
Last week, before a candidate forum in Bloomington, Byrnes called Davis "a pretty good guy" but said that he had "hitched his horse to the wrong wagon," referring to the tea party movement.
"And that's why I decided after this last episode with the government shutdown, I just said, 'OK, that's it.' That was all the motivation I needed, which wasn't much. I was already 60 or 70 percent of the way decided to run," Byrnes said.
Byrnes said he has not run for office before.
The 13th District, which covers a large portion of central Illinois from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to Edwardsville and Collinsville on the southwest, is almost evenly divided politically. Davis won election last year with 46.5 percent of the vote in a three-way race with Gill and independent John Hartman of Edwardsville.