CHAMPAIGN — Eric Thorsland, a rural Mahomet farmer and research engineer, plans to announce Thursday that he’ll seek the Democratic nomination to run against U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.
Thorsland, 52, serves on the Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals and has run unsuccessfully three times for the county board in District 1, a heavily Republican district.
His planned run in the 15th Congressional District also is in an overwhelmingly Republican district.
Shimkus won election to a ninth term in Congress last year with 68.6 percent of the vote over conservative Democrat Angela Michael of Highland. He won every county in the district, including Champaign where he got nearly 70 percent of the vote.
Michael said last month that she intends to run for the Democratic nomination again next March, although she called Shimkus “a great man.” She said she wanted to run against him, however, because he hasn’t done enough for the unborn.
“He says with his mouth that he is pro-life, but we have not seen any action from this man. We have not seen him take any type of legislation on. That’s my problem with him,” said Michael, who with her husband leads frequent pro-life protests at a Granite City abortion clinic.
The largely rural 15th Congressional District — Danville is the largest city in the district — includes all or parts of nearly a third of Illinois’ 102 counties. It stretches from Hoopeston on the northeast to parts of Collinsville on the southwest.
In East Central Illinois the 15th Congressional District includes much of Champaign County outside of Champaign-Urbana, a portion of Ford County including Paxton, and all of Vermilion, Douglas, Coles, Edgar, Shelby and Moultrie counties.
Thorsland, who is married and has three children, works at the University of Illinois physics department and is co-owner of an organic produce farm north of Mahomet.