Tom Kacich: Gill making his fifth run -- as an independent

Tom Kacich: Gill making his fifth run -- as an independent

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David Gill, who has run for Congress four times, says he'll probably make it a fifth in 2016.

This time, he said, he intends to run as an independent, not a Democrat.

Gill filed a one-page statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on April 7.

Ironically, he probably would have been elected to Congress in 2012 if not for the candidacy of independent John Hartman. Gill lost to Republican Rodney Davis by 1,002 votes, or less than half a percentage point, in November 2012. Hartman got 21,319 votes in the race, or about 7 percent of the votes cast.

Gill has insisted since then that he would have won if not for Hartman.

"I'm definitely interested in challenging Davis again; I already beat him soundly once, but for the presence of John Hartman (who echoed my views on virtually every topic, including campaign-finance reform, term limits, health care financing, climate change, same-sex marriage and women's rights)," said Gill, an emergency-room physician who lives in Bloomington.

Running as a Democrat would require collecting only about 1,000 signatures on petitions, Gill said, while an independent candidate needs about 15,000.

"However, I find the idea of running as a Democrat to be unattractive. In allowing itself to become, like the Republican Party, a subsidiary of the Wall Street banks and large multinational corporations, the Democratic Party has abandoned the interests of ordinary Americans," he said. "As a consequence, nearly all citizens, from all across the political spectrum, are left lacking employment security, retirement security, health care security, and educational security."

Gill said the Washington-based Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has discouraged him from running again.

"The pro-corporate policies favored by the Democratic Party certainly impact the party's politics as well. In spite of my campaign's substantial success in 2012, the DCCC has shown no interest in supporting a follow-up effort on my part," he said. "Given the poor performance of other Democrats in the congressional district (Ann Callis, Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin each lost the district by 20 to 60 times the margin of my defeat) it is obvious that the viability of another campaign by myself is not the issue."

Callis, Quinn and Durbin were on the ballot in 2014, a bad year for Democrats nationwide and particularly in Illinois, while Gill was last on the ballot in 2012, a presidential election year when Illinoisan Barack Obama was at the top of the ticket.

"Polling data demonstrates a readiness on the part of voters for something other than the two major parties which have abandoned them. The path to victory as an independent is not easy by any means, but it is definitely achievable, and very necessary to meet the needs and concerns of all voters throughout Illinois 13," Gill said.

He said he's begun to build a campaign committee and staff, and soon will begin fundraising.

"Much of my time over the next several months will be dedicated to raising the funds and continuing to develop the infrastructure required to succeed with an independent campaign. As part of this effort, yes, I'll be busy campaigning throughout the district," he said.

In addition to his 2012 race against Davis and Hartman, Gill ran for Congress three times against former U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, in the old 15th Congressional District: losing in 2010 (64 percent to 36), in 2006 (58 to 42) and in 2004 (61 to 39).

In the 2012 race, Gill raised and spent $1.32 million. Davis, though, spent $1.38 million, and got much more support from Republican candidates and groups and political action committees than Gill.

"Within what amounts to a one-party system, most American citizens have been without a true voice in Washington for far too long. We deserve much better," Gill said. "I look forward to discussing the issues, securing a place on the ballot, and, ultimately, to winning a majority of the votes cast in Illinois 13 in November 2016."

Gill has always been a popular candidate in Champaign County. In the 2012 race he got 57 percent of the Champaign County vote to 37 percent for Davis and 7 percent for Hartman. The 31,108 votes he got in Champaign County were about 10,000 greater than Davis received.

In his last race against Johnson in 2010, he got 44 percent of the vote here against a Champaign County native who had a huge advantage in name recognition and campaign funding.

Davis money

No matter whom or how many people he runs against next year, Davis already has a big head start. His latest Federal Election Commission report shows he already has $418,965 on hand. He collected $418,551 during the January-March period, and spent $125,673.

He's well ahead of his 2014 election campaign fundraising pace. He had $334,203 on hand at this point two years ago.

Almost two-thirds of the money Davis has raised so far this year came from political action committees. Of the other 37 percent, most are larger ($250 or more) itemized individual contributions.

Davis' campaign spending during the quarter makes an interesting contrast with the expenditures of his former colleague, ex-Rep. Aaron Schock, who resigned last month after questions were raised about spending from his campaign and government accounts.

Schock spent $235,383 in the first quarter, to Davis' $125,673.

Among Schock's expenditures: $3,113 for Tiffany bowls to donors, $3,408 worth of Garrett Popcorn for volunteers, and $4,000 for lodging at the White Elephant Hotel in Nantucket, Mass.

Schock also reported owing $319,919 to the Washington law firm Jones Day.

Davis' expenditures included a $10,000 bonus to his former campaign manager, Tim Butler, who is now an Illinois state representative; another $10,000 to former staffer Kayleen Carlson; and a $7,000 bonus to his former press spokesman, Andrew Flach, who now works at the state Department of Children Family Services.

Davis' biggest single expense of the quarter was $20,482 to a St. Paul, Minn., company for direct-mail production and postage.

Bennett boys

East Central Illinois's Bennett boys — Scott in the Illinois Senate, Tom in the Illinois House — had a good quarter of fundraising during their first three months in office.

Tom, the Gibson City Republican who is Champaign Democrat Scott Bennett's uncle, had a bit of a head start, though. He was elected last November. Scott was appointed to his seat Jan. 12 after former Sen. Mike Frerichs was elected state treasurer.

Tom Bennett finished the first quarter with $38,357 on hand. He had started the quarter with $30,770.

Scott Bennett finished the period with $20,731. He had started it with zero. Fundraising success is more critical for him since he is in a more competitive district, he hasn't run for office before and he'll be up for election less than two years after being appointed.

Among Scott Bennett's big donors: $2,500 each from Senate President John Cullerton, the Illinois Pipe Trades Council, and the Illinois Laborers Legislative Committee; $1,250 from the State Universities Annuitants Association; $1,000 each from the Illinois State Medical Society, the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, the Friends of (Sen.) Andy Manar, the Cable Television & Communications Association; and $500 from AT&T Services and the law firm of Fletcher, O'Brien, Kasper & Nottage of Chicago.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or kacich@news-gazette.com.

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Jam wrote on April 22, 2015 at 11:04 am

It appears to my cynical way of thinking that Dr. Gill really wants to become a Washington fatcat.

ChambanaPhil wrote on April 22, 2015 at 4:04 pm

This is awesome! This just validates my view that Gill has a ton of integrity and class as a candidate. He's right on virtually every issue, and the fact that he would rather win independant of the political parties this time around is great. Plus, as history has shown, he could actually be one to pull it off!