Josh Dill of Springfield has never run for office before, but he wants to be your congressman as a member of a new third party, and he'll need about 15,000 signatures on petitions just to get on the November ballot.
That is an enormous challenge.
Dill, 30, has filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission, seeking to run in the 13th Congressional District as a member of the Lincoln Liberty Party. He won't be on the March 18 primary ballot with the three Democrats and three Republicans who are seeking their parties' nomination. And in order for him to get on the general-election ballot as the nominee of a new party, he'll need to collect at least 14,719 valid signatures by June 23.
Two years ago, independent candidate John Hartman, taking advantage of a quirk in Illinois election law, got on the 13th District ballot with only 5,100 petition signatures. No such luck this year for Dill.
"They don't make it easy for you in Illinois," he said. "I don't think we're going to have any issues, though. I've got some contacts in Champaign, Decatur and Bloomington and I'll be holding some signing rallies, including one on the (University of Illinois) campus, on their Quad. I don't think it's going to be too big an issue. It does put you on a pretty tight timeline."
Dill plans to appeal to the youth vote, including the large number of college students in the 13th District, which stretches from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to Edwardsville and Collinsville on the southwest.
"We have a platform that appeals to a large base, but I think the people who will be most receptive to it is the younger crowd," said Dill, who was born in Danville but whose family moved to the Springfield area when he was 2 years old. "I'm trying to motivate them and get them interested in the political process."
His platform calls for more aggressive health care reform with a single-payer system (like that advocated by Democrat David Gill two years ago), marijuana legalization, same-sex marriage and encouraging development of renewable energy, including industrial hemp.
He believes voters, and especially young people, will be open to his ideas.
"Almost everybody says that our political process is corrupt, and I've never been part of that political process. I think have a leg up with that," said Dill, who has a 1-year-old daughter and is engaged to be married. He works for a loan-servicing company in Springfield.
When I suggested to him — again — that he has an especially large burden to get on the ballot, he seemed unconcerned.
"It is a lot of work. We're going to have to have 50 volunteers in each major city to cover it, even with me coming in every weekend and campaigning," he said. "But I don't have any negative thoughts about making it to the ballot. I think you're going to see me on the ballot."
Harold on the death penalty
In her sparsely attended town-hall meeting last week in Jerseyville, Republican congressional candidate Erika Harold had an interesting exchange with Floyd Alexander, the chairman of the Jersey County Republican Party.
Harold, the Urbana attorney who is challenging U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, in the 13th Congressional District, had recounted a visit she took as Miss America to death row at a Louisiana state prison.
Alexander interjected that he and Harold had already talked about the death penalty and agreed to disagree.
"I'm not pro-life. I'm pro-birth," Alexander told the dozen or so people at the town-hall meeting. "If a guy does something wrong — or a woman — and the jury says, 'Death,' you go to death. That's the way it is."
Harold replied: "That's an issue that I have spent an enormous time thinking about, the death penalty. And my views on it have changed over time. I ultimately am not a supporter of the death penalty because I've seen firsthand the abuses within the system.
"If there was a way in which we could ensure that people were not wrongly convicted, I might have a different view on it. But in seeing cases where someone is sentenced to death and convicted where their attorney fell asleep during a trial and didn't actually call a witness and that person never even got a defense, and so from a constitutional perspective I feel that that person didn't get due process."
Bernadine and Bob Stake, 304 W. Iowa St., U, are hosting a $30-per-person brunch fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday for Carol Ammons, an Urbana City Council member and one of two candidates for state representative in the 103rd House District that includes almost all of Champaign-Urbana. Ammons is opposed by Champaign attorney Sam Rosenberg.
Bernadine Stake is the precinct committeeman for Cunningham 10, probably the most Democratic precinct in Champaign County. In 2012, President Barck Obama won the precinct in 2012 with 84.92 percent of the vote while Democratic congressional candidate David Gill got 85.77 percent and Illinois Senate candidate Mike Frerichs got 86.64 percent.
Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.