Former Madison County judge Ann Callis easily defeated Democratic challengers George Gollin and David Green in Tuesday’s primary by margins of more than 30 points, according to The Associated Press.
Callis will go on to face a more formidable opponent in the 13th Congressional District, incumbent Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, in November’s general election.
A well-funded Davis secured the Republican nomination by defeating attorney and former Miss America Erika Harold of Urbana 57 percent to 38 percent, with 65 precincts reporting, according to news reports.
The 13th includes parts of Madison, Bond, Champaign, McLean and Sangamon counties and all of Christian, Calhoun, DeWitt, Greene, Jersey, Macon, Macoupin, Montgomery and Piatt counties. It has traditionally leaned Republican, but through redistricting after the 2010 census – Republicans call it “gerrymandering” – it is seen as 50-50.
Results in Madison County show Callis received 3,424 votes to Gollin’s 646 and Green’s 505 votes.
On the Republican ticket, Davis received 3,416 votes to Harold’s 1,768 and Michael Firsching’s 536 votes.
Callis received eight more votes than Davis in Madison County. However, more Republican voters than Democratic voters cast ballots in the 13th race in Madison County.
Total Republican votes in the Madison County portion of the 13th numbered 5,720 to 4,575 Democratic votes.
District-wide, the vote total was approximately 50,000 Republican votes to 31,000 Democratic votes.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee backed Callis and congratulated her on a “convincing” primary win.
“Democrats across Illinois are strongly positioned to succeed in November because they are on the side of middle class families while their Republican opponents are stacking the deck for special interests,” stated DCCC Chairman Steve Israel in a press release. “Democratic incumbents have been fighting to protect good jobs, raise wages and grow the economy – and the people of Illinois now have an excellent opportunity to send another Democratic problem-solver to Congress from the 13th Congressional district.
“I especially congratulate Judge Ann Callis on her convincing primary win because she demonstrated her commonsense appeal and record of accomplishments like standing up for our veterans and families facing foreclosure. Congressman Rodney Davis will find that putting special interests first, ending the Medicare guarantee and raising costs on Illinois seniors will put him on the wrong side of voters in November.”
Davis, who was first elected in 2012, thanked voters for the nomination.
"Now that this election is behind us, it is my hope that Republicans across the 13th District can come together for the common goal of winning in November to keep our majority in the House and maintain the fight to ensure that America is strong for generations to come,” Davis said in a statement.
The National Republican Congressional Committee in a press release lauded Davis for having “strongly navigated his first term in Congress."
The NRCC predicted that Callis would have a tough time in the general election, indicating that her judicial record would be “carefully scrutinized” in the coming months.
“The primary challenge from Gollin has left Callis very wounded with attack ads airing on TV hitting her for being a ‘political insider’ who wants to ‘cut Social Security,’” the statement reads.
“While Ann Callis was forced to spend a huge portion of her campaign fundraising totals to survive her primary, she will now be forced to play catch up in order to compete with Davis’ fundraising capabilities and campaign war chest. National Democrats might have been able to get their handpicked candidate over the finish line in this cycle’s primary, but Callis is seen as a flawed candidate with a judicial history which will be carefully scrutinized over the next eight months.”
David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, said voter turnout will be key for Democrats in November's election.
He said voters who may be "mad" about Obamacare may take it out on Democrats at the polls, as was the case in a special election in Florida last week. Republican David Jolly, who favors repealing and replacing the law and made the issue central to his campaign, defeated Democrat Alex Sink in a closely watched congressional race.
Yepsen said that problems for Democrats could be pronounced if voter turnout among minorities and young people falls off in the upcoming non-presidential year election.
In the 13th Congressional District, Republicans are sure to hang the unpopular healthcare law on Callis, as well as label her as Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's "preferred candidate."
NRCC spokeswoman Katie Prill took a swipe at Callis for supporting Pelosi's "liberal agenda."
“It can’t feel good to be Ann Callis the day after the primary election knowing that she spent all of her campaign cash in her primary and now has the label of Pelosi’s handpicked candidate hanging over her head," Prill said in a statement.
"While Callis has been criticized by all of her local newspapers for lacking substance or any real thoughts on our nation’s problems, one thing Callis needs to start explaining now is why she continues to support Nancy Pelosi’s liberal agenda over Illinois families.”