PEORIA, IL -- The most significant question facing voters in the July 7 special Democratic primary is who can defeat the Republican winner, likely state Sen. Darin LaHood.
The two Democrats seeking to become their party's nominee met June 7 at the Peoria Labor Temple to discuss issues and answer audience questions.
Here's the Peoria Journal Star's account of the event.
Here is a recording of the event.
They are Rob Mellon of Quincy and Adam Lopez of Springfield. Both are good candidates, strong on the issues that Democrats care about. But Mellon seems the most likely to eek out a surprise win over a Republican.
He's a little older, a little more mature, knows a little more about the details of foreign policy issues, and has a military background, likely important to the conservative voters of the 18th District.
This is a gerrymandered district set up to give former disgraced Cong. Aaron Schock a free win. The winner of the Sept. 10 election will replace him.
At the event, Mellon stated the obvious: that it will be a low turnout election, so a group of dedicated Demos could carry it.
Lopez stated that he is the only pro-choice candidate of either party in the race. But afterwards Mellon said he's personally opposed to abortion but like other Catholic politicians, he will not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade or restrict access to abortions. Fair enough.
Both candidates are worried about income inequality, lack of jobs and want to help unions organize. Mellon is the only union member of the candidates, as he's a high school history teacher in Quincy. It shows in his understanding of the issues.
He also wants a Constitutional amendment to get the big money out of politics. It will be a struggle, he said, but other progressive issues also have been struggles, from civil rights to women's rights. "We have to be successful," he said. "It seems like we're losing our democracy to (monied) oligarchs."
Lopez said he has a special interest in immigration issues and making citizenship easier to obtain, since his ancestors were immigrants.
Both want to raise the minimum wage and oppose abusive trade agreements.
It's refreshing to have two good candidates running in this race. Even if both ultimately lose, they will have gained valuable experience for next time.
The other two Republicans in that primary are Mike Flynn and Don Reints.
-- Elaine Hopkins