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McCarter gearing up to challenge Shimkus

Tuesday, Oct 6, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois Review

The longest-serving member of Illinois’ Republican congressional delegation may be facing a challenge in the March 2016 Republican primary.

State Senator Kyle McCarter (R-Vandalia) appears to be preparing a bid to unseat Republican John Shimkus (IL-15), who has been representing Illinois’ southernmost congressional district since 1997.

While the rumor has been persistent for a while, reports are that McCarter made several calls over the weekend to downstate Republican leaders, notifying them of his intentions to primary Shimkus in 2016. They say Shimkus’ longtime loyal staffers, as well as Governor Rauner’s, have unsuccessfully tried to dissuade McCarter from his plans.

McCarter did, indeed, start making calls on Friday.

* Roll Call

In the last few days, McCarter has been calling various Republicans across the state and has unveiled a new campaign logo (noticeably void of the office he intends to seek) at the Little Egypt parade in Salem on Saturday. According to one GOP source, McCarter may even announce in Collinsville, Shimkus’ hometown, even though only a portion of the city is in the 15th District.

The congressman had $1.2 million in the bank on June 30, but is not unbeatable in the primary, according to local sources. At the same time, GOP insiders believer McCarter would need significant help from outside anti-establishment groups to put a real scare into Shimkus.

Shimkus, who was first elected in 1996, has a lifetime 66 percent rating with the Club for Growth, but his 2014 grade fell to 34 percent in 2014. That’s the type of score that could attract some attention to the race if McCarter is deemed to be credible. But there is no evidence that the club, or another major outside group, is poised to get involved immediately.

The logo

He’s never been happy in the Senate, he’s not easily swayed by party leaders and probably doesn’t care what could happen to him if he runs, so after some initial hesitation, I can now see him pulling the trigger.


  1. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 9:55 am:

    Going out with a bang, I see.

  2. - cdog - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 9:56 am:

    Seems like any Republican, who believes in the party platform of term limits, shouldn’t be running for a third term.

    C’mon guys. Practice what you preach. Walk the talk.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 9:57 am:

    When McCarter is “green” on the Rauner Tax Increase, that’s when the fun will really begin.

    “McCarter will vote ‘No’, you watch”

    Yeah, you go with that. Good luck.

    To McCarter,

    I do respect McCarter, he believes he’s a man of principle, but when you think about the “Jacobs Incident”, and McCarter’s “handling” of it, McCarter is who he is, warts and all.

  4. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:01 am:

    Willy - with respect, I know Senator McCarter really well. There is no way in Hades that he would EVER vote for a tax increase. And there is also no way that Governor Rauner would be “happy” with him making this decision to challenge a sitting MOC who backed Governor Rauner quite a bit in 2014. As you noted, McCarter is his own man. He could care less about anyone else.

  5. - Jaded - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:03 am:

    Doesn’t take a whole lot of courage to challenge Shimkus when he is in the middle of a 4 year term. Hope he gets his clock cleaned.

  6. - Wordslinger - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:03 am:

    The Illinois Senate won’t flip GOP and the U.S. House won’t flip Dem anytime in the foreseeable future.

    Being in the majority is a lot more fun, even if you’re not interested in governing. Worth a shot.

    I imagine McCarter will beat Shimkus like a rented mule over his term-limits pledge. That’s a powerful issue in a GOP primary in that district.

  7. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:09 am:

    Rich - one interesting thing about your post:

    For someone who claims he hasn’t ever really been “happy” in his current position, Senator McCarter sure has made an awful lot of enemies to get the appointment and keep his seat.

  8. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:16 am:

    ===Senator McCarter sure has made an awful lot of enemies to get the appointment and keep his seat===

    That’s Kyle.

  9. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:17 am:

    - Team Sleep -

    With respect, the Rauner Tax Increase and Rauner Budget will be a structured roll call, you know that. Part of that roll call, that package, will require all 67 “green” (Maybe McCann gets a pass, but that side deal would be a stick in the eye, so…) because if “caving” on Turnaround Agenda items is to happen, the cost IS the Raunerite Caucuses paying the freight.

    McCarter, McSweeney, Ives… They will all be “green”, it would be malpractice if Cullerton and Madigan not to demand it for a compromise.

    Rauner is counting to 47 and 20 already as “green” too. Otherwise that $20 million would’ve found its way to Durkin and to the other 66 members and the Leaders. It hasn’t.

    I hear ya - Team Sleep - and McCarter’s own… personality… favors your take, let alone a history you have and know of him. I get it.

    New world, new rules.

    … and Franks will be laughing at all the GOP green lights.

  10. - South Central - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:22 am:

    Although I’m no fan of Shimkus, I believe he is a better choice than McCarter. Shimkus knows something about compromise, but McCarter has much to learn. I expect McCarter to do well in my area during the primary. I wish there was a good alternative to both these Republicans.

  11. - The Captain - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:22 am:

    About 20% of the district is in the St. Louis media market so you’ll have to be well organized in the western part of the district (where Shimkus is from) because even with outside spending you’re not going on tv in St. Louis for this race. You can buy tv in the Evansville and Terre Haute markets relatively cheaply so I assume both will (about 10% and 15% of the district) and then that leaves the Springfield/Decatur/Champaign market (about 40%) and Paducah (about 12%) for the remainder, both will be inefficient spending because so much of those markets lie outside the district but it’s still better than St. Louis and that’s where the votes are.

    Outside money could help if it buys early and buys in the less efficient Champaign and Paducah markets, let the candidates buy in Evansville and Terre Haute and then you need to organize in the more populous areas in the north and west, or do good mail.

  12. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:23 am:

    It’s also fair to point out that Congressman Shimkus openly backed someone else for Senator Watson’s position instead of Kyle McCarter. I don’t think Kyle’s ever gotten over that.

    Willy - he’ll give that certain kind of grin, push the red button and then sit back down.

  13. - downstater - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:24 am:

    Shimkus’ popularity has plummeted in recent years and he’s largely seen as out of touch and a Washington insider. He’s especially unpopular with precinct committeemen and the TEA Party. I don’t know if McCarter has the juice to take Shimkus out, but he will definitely make him sweat.

  14. - illini - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:25 am:

    This will definitely be an interesting primary to watch. Both men currently “represent” me, or more correctly, their personal agendas.

    Keep us up to date Rich!

  15. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:27 am:

    ===Willy - he’ll give that certain kind of grin, push the red button and then sit back down.===

    lol, good stuff there.

    Can you imagine if McCarter torpedoes the structured roll call after Rauner has one of his meetin’ type “no $&@#% problem” speeches?

    Cullerton, “The Governor said he had 20 GOP votes, you should ask him.”


  16. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:32 am:

    I can totally see Senator McCarter doing that.

  17. - too obvious - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:33 am:

    Why is McCarter even in government? Recall this is a guy who has publicly said government should have no role in helping the poor and the sick. Says it should all be handled by private organizations and churches. Meanwhile both he and his spouse get government paychecks.

    The only thing voters hate more than dishonest politicians, is hypocritical politicians.

  18. - Northside City Dweller - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:34 am:

    Not off to a good start if there isn’t a ‘Paid For’ logo on that sign…

  19. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:36 am:

    - Team Sleep -

    “McCarter Nixes Budget - Impasse Continues”

    I guess if McCarter wants to be the new hostage taker…

    What theatre it would/will be

  20. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:43 am:

    Willy - but that’s an entire faction of the GOP primary base! Think about the angst coming from the far right to shut down “the government”.

  21. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:45 am:

    He could care less about anyone else.

    That is going to be his problem. No loyalty to anyone and no loyalty in return.

  22. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 10:50 am:

    - Team Sleep -,

    Don’t fall into the trap;

    Rauner is about the Raunerite Agenda, not the ILGOP or being a Republican.

    How do I know?

    That $20 million isn’t there to help the GOP Caucuses, but there to ensure the Raunerite governing decisions.

    I think if it did go down with McCarter “red”, Cullerton would be more than happy to add “1″ more green at a price, and allow Rauner to show everyone the “Wrath of Rauner”. The “McCarter Impasse” would be minutes or hours.

    ===Think about the angst coming from the far right to shut down “the government”.===

    Wait until the far right learns what IllinoisGO is all about.

    It will be like waking up a sleepwalker.

  23. - LincolnLounger - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 11:31 am:

    Ugh. I thought he was going to Africa to work full-time on his charity?

    He and McCann are insufferable.

  24. - Nearly Normal - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 11:34 am:

    Wasn’t Shimkus part of the Repubs espousing term limits at first and then backed off as his own term went on?

    Could make things interesting in So Illinois!

  25. - illini - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 11:37 am:

    Nearly Normal - you are correct. When he was first elected he committed to only serve 4 terms and then come back to MadCo and become a regular citizen again. We now know what his promise was worth!

  26. - Apocalypse Now - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 11:40 am:

    Shimkus is hard working and has built up a tremendous amount of goodwill over the years. He will be hard to beat in the primary. The interesting part will be seeing locals teaming up for either candidate.

  27. - illini - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 11:58 am:

    With all respect to some commenters here - “good old John” has lost some of his luster and support ( but given the way the Dems have created safe districts for him these last 2 times he will likely survive this challenge ).

    To say that he understands how to compromise is a joke.

    And “goodwill” - he panders to his base and is shameless in his efforts to promote his hypocritical positions.

    My opinion - and, don’t even get me started on McCarter.

  28. - Downstate - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 12:14 pm:

    John continues to be a face in the district. He’s taken some votes that particular groups are pretty upset with - but nothing that would be a clear opening for McCarter.

    John’s biggest problem is his term pledge and the fact that he’s been in office for so long. People are tired of career politicians. McCarter is a long shot, but if he can successfully paint Shimkus as a career politician he has a shot.

    Probably all comes down to how much “paint” McCarter can secure.

  29. - LincolnLounger - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 12:15 pm:

    Shimkus will be fine. He’s got an excellent staff that will hit the ground running, an established organization, an excellent warchest, etc.

    McCarter has never raised federal $, runs all his own campaigns, and doesn’t delegate.

    Before you try and tell me there will be a groundswell of Tea Party movement to carry McCarter, there won’t. Illinois conservatives are never organized, fight amongst themselves for meaningless titles, and will be distracted by the Presidential race.

    Shimkus in a walk.

  30. - Joe Bidenopolous - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 1:11 pm:

    Shimkus has a lot of warts, starting with the three-term pledge, continuing with the page scandal - people forget he was Chair of the House Page Board and had knowledge of Foley before it was publicly revealed - and continuing with all of the metro east shenanigans he’s been involved with for decades.

    If anyone had the money to compile a serious OR book on him, and importantly, had the cash to make that book useful, then he could pretty easily be primaried. I rather doubt McCarter is going to find that funding from either his campaign or a third party.

  31. - Ninetwelve - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 1:29 pm:

    Apparently some of ya’ll ain’t heard of the swarm…

  32. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 1:36 pm:

    Joe -

    1. Shimkus pledged to serve 6 terms.

    2. What shenanigans?! He was the only countywide GOP official in decades and the Madison County Dems went after him until they realized that was a futile effort.

  33. - Vandalia - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 4:12 pm:

    I didn’t know McCarter was from Vandalia. I thought he was from Lebanon. Its bad enough that he represents us in the Illinois Senate. Please don’t say he lives here too! Shimkus wins this fairly easily in my mind. There are a lot of tea party types in this district but Shimkus has been around too long and earned too much loyalty to be tossed out in a primary.

  34. - illini - Tuesday, Oct 6, 15 @ 7:41 pm:

    Sorry Vandalia, but he unfortunately represents me as well. I think you got tagged because his office is there.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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