5 Dems vying to replace Davis make cases at Champaign forum

5 Dems vying to replace Davis make cases at Champaign forum

CHAMPAIGN — All five Democratic candidates for Congress in Illinois' 13th District made it clear Thursday at a forum in Champaign that they'd be nothing like incumbent Republican Rep. Rodney Davis.

Whether the topic was gun control, universal health care, abortion rights or the Republican tax cut program, the Democratic contenders were in general agreement that they would vote the opposite of the three-term Taylorville Republican.

"What the state of gun policy in the United States demonstrates right now is the poison of money in politics. Sixty to 80 percent of Americans agree that they would support universal background checks, that they would support a national gun registry," said Jon Ebel of Urbana, a University of Illinois associate professor in the Department of Religion. "The reason we're not able to get that done is because of politicians who have too long catered to the interests of the gun lobby. I want to see people in Congress who don't want the NRA's money and who don't want the NRA's A-plus grade. Me? I want an F. I want whatever is the lowest grade they'll give because in my book, that's a moral A-plus."

Davis has been endorsed by the NRA in past elections and has an A rating.

The five also blistered Davis for his support of the GOP tax plan rushing through Congress. Davis voted for the House version last month.

"If you go to Rodney Davis' website right now, you'll find a part where he talks about how the debt crisis is something we cannot ignore any longer. And yet Rodney Davis is pushing a bill that will add over $1 trillion to our debt," said Erik Jones of Edwardsville, a former Illinois assistant attorney general. "I looked up the word 'ignore' in the dictionary, and it's not what he's doing. He's adding gasoline to a fire, and it's incredibly irresponsible."

Betsy Londrigan of Springfield, who has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Emily's List, said the tax bill "is horrible for working families, and what Rodney wanted to do to our district is disgusting. We have an economic driver in our district that is education, and we need a representative who is protecting it and promoting it, not somebody who is giving breaks to the billionaires on the backs of students and grad students."

Three of the Democrats — physician David Gill of Bloomington, teacher Angel Sides of Springfield and Ebel — endorsed a single-payer health care program. Davis has continuously argued for repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.

"I've been a member of a group that has been pushing ... for a single-payer health care system that we so richly deserve and which has been denied us by these corporate-owned politicians," Gill said. "The ACA was a small step in the right direction, but they locked the single-payer advocates out of the room, and ultimately, we left the insurance companies in charge."

Sides, who entered the 13th District race at virtually the last minute this month, said she favored legislation that would provide guaranteed health care, including in-home care.

More than 100 people attended the forum, held at the Champaign Public Library, which was sponsored by the Champaign County Young Democrats and moderated by Elizabeth Hess of WDWS-AM. It was the fourth forum thus far, although the first featuring Sides. Earlier meetings were held in Urbana, Springfield and Edwardsville. At least one more, in Bloomington-Normal, has been scheduled.

The 13th District extends from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to Edwardsville and Collinsville on the southwest and runs through parts of Bloomington-Normal and Springfield, and all of Decatur and Taylorville.

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