Callis would have to step down as judge to run for Congress

Christina Stueve and Ann Maher Oct. 26, 2011, 3:56am


Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier will get to pick a replacement for Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis when she steps down, as expected, to make a run for the 12th Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Belleville).

Callis has maintained a "no comment" position regarding her interest in making the transition to legislator, however, Madison County Democratic Committee Chairman Matt Melucci said Callis made the decision to run within the last two weeks.

"She was getting a lot of encouragement from people," said Melucci, who also is Madison County Circuit Clerk.

Callis, of Troy, currently lives in the 19th Congressional District, but plans to move into the 12th, according to Melucci.

Callis said she would make an announcement next week regarding her candidacy.

According to Illinois Supreme Court rules, a judge must resign from office upon becoming a candidate for a non-judicial office either in a primary or in a general election.

The filing period for nominating petitions in the upcoming primary election, set March 20, 2012, is between Nov. 28 and Dec. 5.

Madison County Republican Chairwoman Deb Detmers said Karmeier would compose a "well-put together committee" to select an appointee when Callis vacates her seat.

Karmeier would then make a recommendation to the full court which would vote up or down on the nominee.

The 12th Congressional seat has been held firmly by Costello, considered to be a conservative Democrat, since 1988.

According to a law professor at the University of Illinois-Carbondale, Democrats "didn't do themselves any favors" with regard to the newly redrawn 12th Congressional District. However, Costello's retirement announcement, which took many by surprise, was unbeknownst to map makers at the time.

The new district now includes Jefferson County. Political districts are redrawn every 10 years following the U.S. Census.

Mount Vernon is county seat of Jefferson County and has a population close to 39,000. It leans Republican, according to recent statewide and national elections.

"To win in southern Illinois, a Democrat needs to be conservative," said Dr. Charles Leonard of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

"The new 12th looks like the old one," Leonard said. "It runs a little more Republican."

On the Republican side, former Belleville mayor Roger Cook, Teri Newman of Highland, Theresa Kormos of O'Fallon and Jason Plummer, who recently moved to O'Fallon, have announced their candidacies for the position. Newman ran against Costello in last year's election.

Plummer, who was nominated as the Republican candidate for Lt. Governor in 2010, financed last year's campaign with more than $1 million of personal wealth, as well as contributions or loans from family or family-owned businesses, according to records from the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Plummer is the son of Robert Plummer of Edwardsville, owner of RP Lumber stores.

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