Tom Kacich: Votes for Davis trump party-line politics

Tom Kacich: Votes for Davis trump party-line politics

Although he lost again in Champaign County in last month's election (57 percent to 42 percent), U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, easily won re-election in the 13th Congressional District by 59.7 percent to 40.3 percent.

The three-term congressman won 12 of the 14 counties in his district, losing only Champaign and the fraction of McLean County (Bloomington-Normal) that is in his district. In most other counties, he won by more than 2 to 1 over Decatur Democrat Mark Wicklund.

Perhaps more important, he did about 10 percentage points better than President-elect Donald Trump, who won the district by 49.69 percent to 44.23 percent for Hillary Clinton.

In raw numbers, Davis got 187,583 votes within the 13th District to 159,013 for Trump.

That's significant because a month before Election Day, Davis withdrew his support for Trump and asked to have his name removed as a member of Trump's agriculture advisory committee.

Some Republicans did not take gently to Davis' response to the release of a recording in which Trump made foul remarks about women, and many threatened to pull their support for the congressman.

"With the terrible options America has right now, I cannot cast my vote for any of the candidates, so I hope Donald Trump withdraws from the race so the American people can elect Mike Pence as our next president," Davis wrote on Oct. 8.

"As parents of a teenage daughter and teen twin boys, my wife and I teach them to respect women and that they will be judged by their words and actions. The abhorrent comments made by Donald Trump are inexcusable and go directly against what I've been doing in Washington to combat assaults on college campuses," he said at the time.

Davis' remarks created a firestorm among Republicans, including 382 comments on his political Facebook page. Most were negative, even ugly.

"You cannot support your own party. I will not support you or anyone else that does not," wrote one commentator.

"Shame on all two-faced Republicans who hold themselves in such self-righteousness to think that you have to not support Trump for fear of losing your own hidden agenda to stay in office. Wake up," wrote another.

"Well, you have lost mine and my family's vote, and I have a big family!" wrote a third.

But Davis did just fine.

He got more votes than Trump in nine of the 14 counties (Champaign, Christian, DeWitt, Macon, Madison, McLean, Montgomery, Piatt and Sangamon) in the district. In raw vote totals, he was outscored by Trump narrowly in the other five, all of which are in the rural, southwestern part of the district.

For example, in Macoupin County, where Trump got 14,322 votes to 14,247 for Davis, the congressman led all other Republican candidates, including those running for U.S. Senate, state comptroller and state representative.

Don't expect Davis to gloat publicly about getting more votes than Trump.

But his spokeswoman, Ashley Phelps, said "these numbers clearly show that Congressman Davis has the support of not only Republicans in his district but also many Democrats and independents.

"In comparison to the last presidential election cycle where he won by only 1,002 votes, it shows that he has spent the last two terms listening to his constituents on both sides of the aisle and fighting for them in Congress. He is looking forward to working with President-elect Trump on many of the issues important to the 13th District."

The election results should free Davis to continue to rank among the most independent, or bipartisan, members of the House.

In 2015, the Lugar Center at Georgetown University gave Davis the 15th-highest score (out of 438 members of Congress) for bipartisanship in the first session of the 114th Congress.

Davis was one of seven Illinois congressmen, and the second-ranked, with a positive score for bipartisanship. They were, in order of ranking, Reps. Bob Dold, Davis, Adam Kinzinger, Dan Lipinski, Tammy Duckworth, Cheri Bustos and Mike Bost.

Other numbers

— Diane Marlin has a big fundraising lead over the three other candidates for mayor of Urbana. In fact, she's the only one of the four to file a campaign disclosure statement with the State Board of Elections.

Marlin, one of three Democrats running for mayor, reports at least $11,485 raised since she formed her campaign committee on July 11. The most recent contribution is $1,000 from Champaign developer Peter Fox and his wife, Kim.

Marlin's fund includes a $3,000 personal loan.

— A recent U.S. Census Bureau report shows that Champaign County's non-urban population continues to shrink. From 1970 to 2010, the rural population of the county dropped from 37,302 to 25,558.

A century ago, when agriculture was the county's main industry, more than half of the county's population of 51,829 lived in rural areas.

Now just 12.7 percent of Champaign County's population is considered rural. That's one of the smallest rural-population cohorts in downstate Illinois. Only St. Clair, Rock Island and Winnebago counties have smaller rural populations than Champaign County.

Among area counties the greatest rural population percentages are in Iroquois (71.7 percent), Piatt (67.7 percent), Douglas (61.6 percent) and Edgar (51.8 percent) counties. All of the rest are less than 50 percent rural, including Vermilion County (31.3 percent).

In the Chicago area, Cook and DuPage counties are now considered entirely urban. Lake County is just 1.3 percent rural.

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

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jlc wrote on December 14, 2016 at 9:12 am

Good to know the "moderate Republican" isn't a completely extinct species.

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