Tom Kacich: It's still early, but danger could await Davis in '18

Tom Kacich: It's still early, but danger could await Davis in '18

Is Congressman Rodney Davis in trouble politically?


Could he be in trouble politically?


First the obligatory acknowledgement that the election is 11½ months away. A lot can happen in that time. Remember that 12½ months ago Donald Trump was popular enough to be elected president. Today, if you believe the Real Clear Politics average of polls, Trump's approval rating is 38.3 percent. His disapproval rating is 56.9 percent.

So whatever Davis' position is now — and if there's a poll on the 13th Congressional District, no one is sharing it — it can get much better or worse than it is today.

The reason so many pundits, including the respected Cook Political Report, say that a "wave" election may lie ahead in 2018 is the "generic ballot" polling. Those are the polls that ask voters not about particular candidates, but about which party they would support in an upcoming congressional election.

Right now the generic polling averages out at a 10.7 percent Democratic advantage, according to Real Clear Politics.

That may not be enough to upend Davis, a three-term Republican from Taylorville, but it's enough to believe that the 2018 election will be a lot closer for him than the last two, and that he'd better hope the generic numbers don't worsen.

Davis won his first race, in 2012, by less than a half percentage point. Since then his name recognition and his campaign funding have improved substantially.

He won in 2014, in what should have been a closer race, by more than 17 percentage points over a poor candidate, Ann Callis. Last year he won by more than 19 percentage points to an even poorer candidate, Mark Wicklund.

More tellingly, Davis ran well ahead of Donald Trump, who won the 13th District by only 5.5 percent.

Contrast that with Rep. Peter Roskam who the Cook Political Report says is in trouble. Roskam won the district last year by 19 percentage points, just like Davis.

But Trump lost in Roskam's west suburban Chicago district by 7 percentage points and can't be helping Roskam at this time.

The district has turned, Cook says, from lean Republican to toss-up.

On the other hand Davis' district remains "likely Republican," says Cook. But if that generic ballot advantage to Democrats jumps to 15 or 16 percent, Davis may be in a toss up race too.

County board and nursing home

It's not clear what's going to happen at Tuesday night's Champaign County Board meeting regarding the county budget and the county-owned nursing home.

But things aren't getting better at the home, says County Auditor John Farney.

It has tapped the last $100,000 from a total of $500,000 the county board loaned to the facility earlier this year from the county general fund. As of Friday, he said, the nursing home had $380,000 on hand. But with an expected payroll of about $250,000 on Wednesday, that could knock it down again. And the facility owes $4.6 million to vendors and the county.

One major legal question facing the nursing home and the county is what happens when that $500,000 loan comes due at the end of December? Does it have to be paid immediately or does the county get in line with all the other vendors owed money, three of which are individually owed more than $300,000?

Illini Dems and Al Franken

The student group the Illini Democrats wasted little time in calling for Minnesota Sen. Al Franken to resign after he was accused — and later admitted to — forcibly kissing and groping a woman in 2006 while they were on a USO trip to Afghanistan in 2006.

"We believe Leeann Tweeden and applaud her courage in coming forward," the Illini Democrats said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon, just hours after the incident was reported. "While he has apologized, Senator Franken should resign immediately as his actions were wrong, immoral and not what we expect of our leaders. This is not a partisan issue, this is an issue of basic human decency, which is apparently something Senator Franken is lacking."

Max Weiss, the communications director for the group, said its 10-member executive board held an online "group chat" Thursday and unanimously agreed to the statement.

"We believe victims. We believe survivors," he said. "This isn't what we expect of our leaders."

Weiss said the College Democrats of Illinois also approved a statement calling on Franken to step down.

Harassment task force

Two central Illinois state senators and a former area state representative who is now a lobbyist have been appointed to serve on the newly developed Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention.

Sens. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, and Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, both of whom are lawyers, were named to the task force that is charged with conducting a comprehensive review of legal and social consequences of sexual discrimination and harassment in both the public and private sectors. The task force is supposed to study and make recommendations on combating sexual discrimination and harassment in workplaces, educational institutions and in state and local government.

Of the 12 senators named to the task force thus far, seven are women.

Also appointed by Senate President John Cullerton was Julie Curry, a former state representative from the Decatur area who now runs her own Statehouse lobbying firm.

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

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CallSaul wrote on November 19, 2017 at 9:11 pm

Rodney is still running scared like he's been doing for years --- he's just picking up the pace...

He's long been too afraid to meet with the voters in our district because he knows he can't defend his awful votes to our faces...

Rodney is one of Trump's most eager and enthusiastic lackeys and he has been since he did a complete 180 and decided it would be a good idea to support Trump after initially badmouthing him in very negative ways...

But now he's fully committed to being Trump's most loyal little lickspittle even though we all know he's having very serious doubts about his decision to kneel before Trump and parrot his lies...

Rodney will be paying a very big price for his ongoing and eager betrayal of the people of Illinois.

11/2018 is now less than a year away and it just keeps getting closer and closer...