“I ran for lieutenant governor last year with the goal of tackling Chicago-style corruption in Springfield,” recalled Jason Plummer, Edwardsville, Ill., businessman. “Now I want to take that goal to a higher level because Chicago-style corruption has been exported to Washington. So running for Congress is the perfect opportunity to help clean up the mess.”
That’s how the 29-year-old Plummer—vice president of a family-owned lumber business, onetime intern at The Heritage Foundation, and U.S. Navy reservist—told HUMAN EVENTS he was running for Congress from Illinois’ 12th District, which Democratic Rep. Jerry Costello is leaving after 20 years.
With five weeks to go before the filing deadline in the Prairie State, Plummer’s commanding position in the Republican primary and better-than-even chance at possibly the only Democratic House district in Illinois that could go Republican, is the latest case-in-point for Republicans retaining their majority in the U.S. House next year. So far, 13 Democratic incumbents are leaving their House seats, compared with only six Republican House members. Where all six GOP seats are in strongly Republican districts, more than half the Democratic-held open seats are better-than-even money to flip to the Republicans.
Illinois’ 12th District is widely considered one of the best opportunities anywhere for a Republican net gain in the House. With Democratic-controlled redistricting either weakening Republicans or forcing them to run against one another for new districts in several cases, the southwest Illinois-based 12th—which has been in Democratic hands since 1944—is now trending Republican. Under its new lines, the district would have given George W. Bush a majority of its votes in ’04 and the statewide ticket of Republican Bill Brady for governor and Plummer for lieutenant governor a handsome win district-wide in 2010. (The Brady-Plummer ticket lost by about 1% of the vote last year to the Democratic ticket of Gov. Pat Quinn and running mate Sheila Simon.)
The chemistry involving Plummer and his probable Democratic opponent is very likely to attract national press attention in the 12th. Businessman Plummer is a proud conservative, strongly pro-life, pro-gun and anti-tax. The candidate for whom area Democrats seem to be clearing the field, Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis, is the daughter of longtime trial lawyer Lance Callis and a reliable cog in the local Democratic machine.
For Democrats, the scenario of one more open House district to play defense in is yet another reason for them not to have too many pleasant dreams of Nancy Pelosi wielding the speaker’s gavel again—not in 2012, anyway.