Speculation over Callis' political aspirations begins as 2014 Congressional race nears

By Bethany Krajelis | Apr 25, 2013



Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis’ name has been mentioned as a potential candidate for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District.

Callis did not return messages seeking comment, but others have taken to the World Wide Web to speculate that she might throw her name in the running for the seat that Republican Rodney Davis currently holds.

The Champaign County Democrats’ website described Callis and George Gollin, a professor at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign, as “candidates mentioned for Representative in Congress (13th District)” in a post about a dinner the group is hosting on Sunday in Champaign.

“The focus of the evening will be meeting and hearing from Democrats who are considering seeking our nomination for statewide and federal offices,” the post states.

Al Klein, chairman of the Champaign County Democrats, said in an email that Gollin will speak at this weekend’s event and that Callis “will be in attendance.”

Pointing to an Illinois Judges Association document on “ethical considerations surrounding judicial political activity,” Klein said sitting judges can attend political gatherings and “engage in political activities on behalf of measures to improve the law, legal system or administrative of justice.”

His careful response is likely the result of the fact that if Callis announces herself as a candidate for Congress, she would at some point have to step down as a judge, a position she has held since 1995 and was retained to in the 2012 election.

Canon 7 of the Illinois Judicial Code of Conduct states “a judge shall resign from a judicial office upon becoming a candidate for a non-judicial office either in a primary or in a general election.”

Besides the Champaign County Democrats website, recent posts on a political blog and an area man’s Facebook page suggest Callis might run for Congress.

The political blog – PoliticsToday – earlier this month had a post about the upcoming race for the 13th District and opined that among other potential candidates, “the top recruit for the Democrats may very well be Madison County Circuit Court Chief Judge Ann Callis, who was wooed during inauguration weekend.”

Noting that “none of these candidates have announced,” the blog post lists the following as other potential candidates: David Gill, a doctor was has previously run for office; Champaign Mayor Don Gerard and Brendan McGinty, a former member of the Champaign County Board.

Also this month, Craig Walker, a Champaign County resident and vice president at IFS Securities, put this post on his Facebook page:

“Lunch with Ann Collis [sic] a potential D candidate for Congress in 2014. She is a Chief Judge, passionate about the issues, and seems to have what it takes to win. Time to gear up for 14!”

Walker’s April 17 post, which appears to have since been taken down, tagged Andy Quarnstrom, the recently elected Champaign Township Supervisor, and Patricia Avery, the executive director of the Champaign-Urbana Area Project, at Big Grove Tavern.

The upcoming race for the 13th District isn’t the first time that Callis’ name has been floated as a potential candidate for office outside the judiciary.

In 2011, there was speculation that she might run for the 12th Congressional District.

The chairman of the local Democratic Party put out a statement on Callis’ behalf back then, explaining that after receiving strong encouragement and seriously considering it, she decided not to run for Congress.

And earlier this year, a few local attorneys told The Record that Callis would be a solid candidate to fill the soon-to-be vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Callis in January declined to comment as to whether she had any interest in applying for the federal judgeship.

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