Shimkus Stunt Galvanizes Downstate Dems

U.S. Rep. may now face a fight

By Steve Rhodes
|  Tuesday, Sep 15, 2009  |  Updated 10:19 AM CDT
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Shimkus Walks Into Trouble

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When downstate Republican Congressman John Shimkus walked out on the president's health care speech last week, he might have walked into an actual re-election fight.

Otherwise thought to have a safe seat, Shimkus has made himself a target of national fundraising efforts and raised the hopes of challengers past.

“His walking out did accelerate our paperwork," 2004 challenger Tim Bagwell told veteran Springfield political columnist Bernard Schoenburg. Bagwell is circulating petitions for another go.

Shimkus's 2006 challenger, Danny Stover, is also receiving renewed attention.

The way Shimkus' district is drawn will make it tough on a Democrat, but, as Schoenburg writes, Shimkus is giving his eventual opponent a lot of ammunition.

He once compared the Iraq War to a Cubs-Cardinals game in a speech on the floor of the House, for example. (He's a diehard Cardinals fan.)

Shimkus Reads From the Bible

He read from the Bible at a congressional hearing about climate change (though that will work in his favor among many constituents).

And now, as noted by Schoenburg, that citizens conduct code he dreamed up in 1996 will come back to haunt him.

"I will lead by example," he promised in that code, "always building up my fellow citizens, and not tearing them down,”

At least it didn't say anything about walking out on the president.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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