CHAMPAIGN — Republican congressional candidate Rodney Davis said Monday in Champaign that he has refused to sign any anti-tax pledges "because I've seen how pieces of paper in Washington, D.C., that somebody signs, based on what they thought it says, can be lorded over by Washington power brokers.
"That's something I'm not willing to do because the only pledge I'll ever sign is one that says specifically that I pledge to represent the interests and the citizens of the 13th District of Illinois. That will allow me to go to Washington and be able to come up with the solutions that are necessary to tackle the biggest problems of today in a bipartisan way without Washington power brokers saying, 'Oh no, this vote here to close this loophole is going to be considered breaking your pledge.' I don't think anybody needs to be bound by that. We need to be bound by the people we serve."
One piece of paper he won't sign, the Taylorville Republican said, is the no-tax pledge of Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform.
"One of the many. None. I won't sign any pledge," said Davis, who is opposing Democrat David Gill and independent John Hartman in the 13th District.
Davis said he hasn't received any criticism for adopting that position.
"I'm getting congratulations. I'm getting thank you's," he said. "Don't get me wrong, I don't intend to raise taxes. I've said all along in this campaign that my plan is to extend our current tax rates permanently so that small businesses ... can have the certainty they need to hire more people."
Davis was in Champaign to receive the endorsement of Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, the Republican Party's candidate for governor in 2008.
Davis encouraged the University of Illinois students at the local campaign call center to keep up their work until Election Day.
"I've seen elections won on Election Day but lost because of early voting," he said. "I've seen people knocked off when they thought they'd won just because early voting allowed someone to work harder at this stage to overcome their margin of victory on Election Day."
His wife, he said, was part of a team of Republican candidates for township trustee who thought they had won two positions on Election Night only to learn they'd won only one seat after the early votes were counted.
Democratic organizing. The executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Monday that the organization has opened 12 offices in Illinois, including one in Champaign, and has more than 30 staff members "on the ground" in Illinois in support of five Democratic congressional candidates in major races.
The 13th District race is one of them.
"We have called more than 1.3 million Illinois voters as part of our get out the vote program; we have knocked on nearly 400,000 doors," said Robby Mook of the DCCC, explaining the organization's early voting campaign. Early voting began in Illinois on Monday.
"Election Day really does start today and it runs for the next two weeks," said Mook.
Debate about debates. The Davis campaign Monday accused Gill of skipping a debate at Alton radio station WBGZ on Monday morning, while the Gill campaign said Davis had declined to do a "tele-town" hall debate with the AARP.
Meanwhile, it's unclear who will show up for a scheduled Friday morning joint appearance on WTAX Radio in Springfield.
Although Davis and independent candidate John Hartman did a one-hour live show on WBGZ on Monday morning, Gill did not appear. Mark Ellebracht, the news director at the station, said the Gill campaign notified the station last week that it would do no debates beyond the three already scheduled: at Illinois State University last week, in downtown Springfield on Wednesday night and at Urbana television station WILL on Nov. 1.
Gill spokeswoman Lucy Stein said the candidate won't be at the WTAX joint appearance either.
Outside spending. Independent group spending in the 13th District race has cleared the $4.56 million, with a new $600,572 investment by the anti-Gill American Action Network.
The race now ranks third in Illinois in terms of total spending by outside groups that are not affiliated with any of the candidates' campaign organizations. Only the 17th District race in the Quad Cities area ($5.3 million) and the 11th District in suburban Chicago have seen more spending by PACs, super PACs and 501(c) groups like the American Action Network, a nonprofit headed by former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.
Most of the money spent in the district — $2.68 million — has been spent by opponents to Gill. Another $1.8 million has been spent by opponents to Davis. A small amount, less than $60,000, has gone to support Gill or Davis.
The biggest spender in the race so far is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has spent $1.76 million to defeat Davis.
"The first thing I'd look at is the quantity of Republican groups that are operational in the state," said the DCCC's Mook. "When you tally up those numbers you can see that there has been an enormous amount of money on their side, and that our candidates have been outspent. There's just more groups out there for the Republicans."
Indeed, the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent almost $1.1 million to defeat Gill. The American Action Network has spent $925,683 to defeat him, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has invested $500,000 in anti-Gill efforts.