In 2016, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis declined to endorse or vote for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Writing on Twitter on Oct. 8, 2016 — less than a month before the election — the Taylorville Republican whose district includes Champaign-Urbana said he had withdrawn his support for the GOP nominee and urged him to drop off the ticket after the disclosure of the infamous Billy Bush tape in which Trump made vulgar and offensive comments about women.
“As parents of a teenage daughter and teen twin boys, my wife and I teach them to respect women and that they will be judged by their words and actions,” Davis said at the time. “The abhorrent comments made by Donald Trump are inexcusable and go directly against what I’ve been doing in Washington to combat assaults on college campuses. Because of this, I am rescinding my support for Donald Trump and asking to have my name removed from his agriculture advisory committee.
“With the terrible options America has right now, I cannot cast my vote for any of the candidates, so I hope Donald Trump withdraws from the race so the American people can elect Mike Pence as our next president.”
Trump, of course, did not withdraw from the race, went on to win the election and even took Davis’ congressional district by about 5 percentage points over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
This time Davis is fully behind Trump. He is an honorary campaign chairman — one of four GOP congressmen — for the president’s re-election effort in Illinois, according to the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee.
The four congressmen — Davis and Reps. John Shimkus, Mike Bost and Darin LaHood — represent downstate districts where Trump is popular.
But Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an occasional critic of Trump whose district extends to DeKalb and the Rockford area, is not on the list. Kinzinger recently hit Trump for paraphrasing a tweet from a conservative minister who suggested that if Trump was removed from office it would cause a civil war.
“I have visited nations ravaged by civil war. @realDonaldTrump I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President. This is beyond repugnant,” Kinzinger countered.
Kinzinger, though, said he still supports Trump’s re-election. The president won his district in 2016 with more than 55 percent. The only Illinois districts with greater percentages for Trump that year were Shimkus’ and LaHood’s.
Another contender in IL-15
There’s another semi-official Republican candidate to replace Shimkus in the 15th Congressional District, which includes Danville, Rantoul and a host of East Central Illinois communities.
Lori Fuller, who lives in Highland and teaches at a private Christian school, filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission. She’s the fourth person to do so — among two Republicans and two Democrats — although no big-name contenders from either party have committed to the race. That’s because the district undoubtedly will change in two years when new census numbers are collected and new congressional district lines are drawn.
Fuller said she is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University (also in the 15th District) who possesses “conservative Christian values and common sense, which we far too rarely see in Washington.”
She is a proponent of strict immigration, she said.
“Border security should be a priority. It is imperative to keeping Americans safe and secure. Financial concerns aside, terrorism is a major factor in border security. Trafficking is another,” Fuller said.
But she also displayed some signs of populism, saying the minimum wage “should be tied to the consumer price index and rise with it annually,” that “government shutdowns are counterproductive and silly,” and that drug prices need to be restrained.
“Much of our health care crisis is due to corporate greed. I don’t think we should restrict capitalism, but there should be some controls on price gouging much like the breakup of ‘Ma Bell’ in the ’90s,” Fuller said.
Half Century Club honor
The members of the Half Century Club, a local history-based organization that is an outgrowth of the Old Settlers Club of the 1800s, honored The News-Gazette last week for “100 years of dedication to our community.”
The Champaign Daily News and Champaign Daily Gazette merged on Dec. 14, 1919.
“Through service and contributions you have made Champaign County a better place to live,” said a plaque that was presented to Traci Nally, vice president of human resources and general counsel for News-Gazette Media, by Barbara Wysocki, president of the Half Century Club.
Tom Kacich’s column appears on Sundays in The News-Gazette. He can be reached at email@example.com.