UI professor becomes fifth Democrat to run for Davis' seat

UI professor becomes fifth Democrat to run for Davis' seat

URBANA — Jonathan Ebel of Urbana has become the fifth Democrat to file as a candidate for Congress in the 13th Congressional District, now represented by Republican Rodney Davis of Taylorville.

Ebel, a University of Illinois associate professor in the Department of Religion since 2005 and a former Navy intelligence officer, so far is the only one of the five candidates from Champaign County, which in the three previous primary elections has provided 22 percent to 28 percent of Democratic Party votes in the 14-county district.

Ebel's statement of candidacy was filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday.

He joins Dr. David Gill of Bloomington, Benjamin Webb of Normal, Betsy Londrigan of Springfield and Erik Jones of Edwardsville as candidates in the district that runs from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to Edwardsville and Collinsville on the southwest.

"I think it's a blessing that we have this many candidates in this primary," Ebel said Monday. "It's a sign of a healthy democracy and a sign of people having the courage to step forward and say, 'I don't like what's going on. I want to be part of a solution.' So I welcome the field."

Ebel differentiates himself from the other candidates by stressing his military service — he's the only veteran among either Davis or the other Democrats — and his electability.

"I think over the course of the coming months people will be taking a look at all of us to see who can actually win, who is the one who can defeat Rodney Davis in 2018 and also the one who can really change the way that government works. And I think they will say that person is me," he said. "I care about the fact that government is not working for people right now and I think that's a sentiment that is shared on both sides of the aisle.

"Part of finding a solution to that is finding people who are not beholden to the political and corporate interests that are warping government. I'm a guy who has deep roots and thick skin and I'm ready to fight for government to work for people. It sounds ridiculous to say that but things seem to be so out of whack."

He hit Davis for his support of a Obamacare replacement plan that barely passed the Republican-controlled House and never gained traction in the Senate.

"You don't go around saying you want to get rid of this policy without a sense of what is coming next. That's clearly what he and all of the Republicans are doing," Ebel said.

Ebel said he would take political action committee money from labor unions and environmental groups but not from superPACs or "dark money" groups. And he said he would work to overturn the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling. It led to the creation of superPACs, which can accept unlimited contributions from corporate and union groups, as well as individuals.

"We have to look really, really hard at Citizens United as legislators and do what can be done to create laws that don't treat corporations like people. That's a patently ridiculous formulation, that Goldman Sachs and I are the same sort of entity politically," Ebel said. "And the more people that we can get running for office who are not beholden to either existing political interests or existing corporate interests, such as superPACS and big corporate money that finds its way into politics, the better."

Ebel said that he would teach at the UI this semester and would begin a fellowship in January that would allow him to campaign "a good amount of the time."

"As an employee of the university, I need to be very careful. I am a deeply, ethically concerned person so I will be watching my time and not mixing state resources with my campaign," he added.

Ebel spent 11 years in the Navy — four on active duty, seven in the reserves — serving as an intelligence officer. He is married and the father of three daughters, ages 16, 14 and 11. He has a B.A. from Harvard and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

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BruckJr wrote on August 22, 2017 at 12:08 pm

lol, he doesn't want to be beholden to political groups but he'll take money from unions and environmental groups.

Kross wrote on August 22, 2017 at 5:08 pm

Godspeed, Dr. Ebel!