It didn’t take long after former Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis announced her Congressional bid for someone to throw a term in her face that’s familiar to many in the Third Judicial Circuit.
Callis, who stepped down as chief judge late last week, announced Monday in an interview with a central Illinois news station that she will run in 2014 for the 13th Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Rodney Davis.
In a press release sent out Tuesday morning, Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), said “If Ann Callis’ self-described best qualification is making Madison County the ‘judicial hellhole’ it is today, Illinois families will have an easy choice next November.”
Callis did not return messages left last week at the chief judge’s office and a request made to the office Tuesday for Callis’ campaign contact information was not immediately returned.
The NRCC went on to slam Callis’ interview with WICS-TV in its release, saying “she forgot to get the talking points from Washington Democrats on why she is running” and had an “awkward exchange” in which it “takes Callis three times before she rattles out an incoherent answer on why she is running.”
After the news reporter asked Callis what Davis has done so wrong that she decided to leave the judiciary to run for his seat, the now-former judge said Davis “is part of the problem in Washington and not part of the solution.”
“I have a proven record of reaching across the aisle … to get things done,” Callis said.
Citing the veterans’ court and mandatory foreclosure mediation program that she instituted during her time as chief judge, a position she held since 2006, Callis said in the interview that she is “result-oriented. That’s how I am.”
She also said that while she has had previous discussions with the Democratic National Committee about a potential Congressional run, the “tipping point” for her was her son, who recently enlisted in the military and graduated from officer candidate school.
“He decided to make this big sacrifice and I am making a different sacrifice to serve my country in my way,” Callis said, later adding that she feels blessed to know her purpose “and that’s public service.”
During the interview, Callis said she is not a current resident of the 13th District, but “signed a lease” and will begin living in Edwardsville in June.
There is no residency requirement for Congressional candidates. The Constitution only requires candidates for Congress to be at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen and a resident of the state in which they seek to represent.
Andrew Flach, a spokesman for Davis, said the 13th Congressional district is a “true 50/50 district, so it's no surprise that the Washington Democrats have been attempting to recruit candidates from the moment Congressman Davis was elected last fall.”
Davis, he said, “looks forward to debating the issues with his eventual opponent, whoever that may be, at the appropriate time. In the meantime, he will focus on governing and working with Republicans, Democrats and Independents on ways to move our country forward."
Prior to Callis’ announcement, there had been much speculation that the now-former chief judge would resign from the bench to run for Congress.
David Gill, who narrowly lost to Davis in last year’s election for the seat, and George Gollin, a University of Illinois physics professor, had also been mentioned as potential Democrats to run against Davis in 2014.
Gill, however, announced on Friday that he would not run for Congress in 2014 and instead accepted a job from Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, as the new assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Though it’s entirely possible that the timing of Gill’s appointment --which occurred on the same day Callis announced she would be resigning from the bench-- was a coincidence, it has spurred questions in the blogosphere as to whether Quinn’s decision was made with the intention of clearing the path for Callis in the primary election.
Since Callis resigned late last week, a new chief judge– Judge David Hylla—has been named in the Third Judicial Circuit and a campaign website for Callis’s Congressional bid has already been created.
The website states that it was paid for by “Citizens for Callis.” Records from the Illinois State Board of Elections show that Callis’ campaign committee for her 2012 retention race, “Citizens for Callis,” had a zero balance as of April 1.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) website did not show any candidate or committee filings for Callis.
According to the FEC website, a candidate running for Congress doesn’t need to register with the FEC until he or she or someone acting on the candidate’s behalf receives contributions or makes expenditures in excess of $5,000.
Within 15 days of reaching that threshold, the FEC website states that a candidate must file a statement of candidacy and within 10 days of that filing, the candidate’s campaign committee must then submit a statement of organization.
Callis’ campaign website --callisforillinois.com -- included two tabs as of late Tuesday afternoon: one providing her biography and another that allows visitors to make a contribution.
The biography notes that Callis has been “hailed” by law enforcement as a “tough, anti-crime judge” and that she has “reformed the courts to keep us safe and improve the court system.”
“Judge Callis will use her experience getting things done to cut through the gridlock in Washington, cut wasteful spending, create jobs for middle class families, and protect the promises we’ve made to our seniors,” her site states.