Big Hitters

The Madison County Record Jan. 9, 2005, 10:21am




Brewing Battle

U.S. Representative John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) shone in the spotlight last week as a GOP president descended upon his hometown.

But sources tell Dicta that the popular former U.S. Army Ranger and Madison County Treasurer may face a well-funded challenger in 2006.

Multi-millionaire asbestos attorney John Simmons, who in 2004 ran an abbreviated seven-month campaign for the Democrat nomination for U.S. Senate, is reportedly gearing up to take on Shimkus.

Last year, Shimkus won re-election with 69% of the vote in a cakewalk over Democrat Tim Bagwell, a software developer from Olney. Bagwell garnered lukewarm support from the Madison County trial bar, who were perhaps looking ahead to a Simmons run in ’06.

Before dropping out at the behest of former U.S. Rep. Glenn Poshard (D-Marion), Simmons told reporters he was prepared to drop $40 million of personal cash on the U.S. Senate race. He eventually backed State Comptroller (and loser) Daniel Hynes.

In Simmons’ quest to bring minor league baseball to Southern Illinois—he purchased a team in December and is angling for state funds to build a stadium in Marion— he is clearly raising his public profile in Shimkus’ district.

The 19th covers 26 southern Illinois counties, including Madison and Bond. It does not include St. Clair County.

Shimkus first won election to the Congress in 1996, defeating now State Rep. (and trial lawyer) Jay Hoffman.


When the happily named “Center for Justice & Democracy” announced it would hold a press conference in Collinsville last week, taking on President George W. Bush and his call for tort reform, most of us weren’t sure what to expect.

Who is the “Center for Justice & Democracy,” we wondered? And for that matter—who could possibly be against justice and democracy? Is there a “Center against Justice & Democracy,” too?

Well, our grandfather told us that sometimes it’s easiest to judge someone by the company they keep.

Their agenda and all else became crystal clear after a cursory check of the CJ & D Web site. One of the group’s “advisors,” Dicta found, was hat-wearing filmmaker Michael Moore.

We sent a reporter over to get Moore’s autograph but he was re-buffed at the door.

Apparently, the CJ & D was not only assailing Bush, but simultaneously “respectfully” requesting that he meet with them. Good one.

In addition to Moore, CJ & D advisors include Julia Roberts-played famous plaintiff Erin Brockovich.

Barrels of fun
Consumers can expect all kinds of changes in a new year. Increased filing fees in Madison County among them.

No telling who was rejected from the circuit clerk’s office last week, but the source says some frustrated filers “came in with full crates and left with full crates.”

The cost to file a civil suit in the Law Division increased $10 from $186 to $196 in 2005.

Last month we did our share to prevent the tragedy by posting a story on the rate increases and guiding readers to the clerk’s website for all the intricate details.

And now we’ve been warned to expect a slew of new suits this week. Crates last week. Should we expect barrels this week? Might a backhoe be in order?

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