The federal government shutdown will certainly be a centerpiece in the battle for control of the U.S. House in next year's congressional races. And most likely it will dominate debate in what is expected to be one of the most competitive races in the country - Illinois' 13th Congressional District.
But as the Oct. 15 deadline for candidates’ third quarter financial reports nears and curiosity over their warchests grow, fundraising efforts of the five contenders in the 13th may remain a mystery until the federal government shutdown ends.
The shutdown has led to several government entities furloughing employees or shutting down completely, including the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). The FEC operates fec.gov, which provides the public with, among other things, fund-raising reports of candidates running for federal office.
“Certain interactive systems on the FEC’s website may be unavailable due to lack of staffing during the furlough,” the site states.
Messages left with the FEC seeking an official statement have not been returned.
Currently occupied by freshman Rodney Davis, a Republican from Taylorville, the 13th Congressional District will also see challengers Erika Harold, Republican from Urbana, and attorney and former Miss America; Ann Callis, Democrat from Edwardsville and former Madison County chief judge; George Gollin, Democrat from Champaign and University of Illinois physics professor; and David Green, Democrat from Champaign.
To gain the majority in the House, Democrats need to pick up 25 seats - and they view freshman Davis as vulnerable in a swing district that covers parts of Bond, Champaign, Madison, McLean and Sangamon counties and all of Christian, Calhoun, DeWitt, Greene, Jersey, Macon, Macoupin, Montgomery and Piatt counties. The district has traditionally leaned Republican but through redistricting, Democrats see opportunity.
Even though the candidates' fund-raising efforts for the third quarter may be out of reach for now, results posted at mid-year indicate robust campaigns ahead.
Davis had raised more than $844,000 through June 30; Callis had raised $226,000 (she formed her committee May 15) and Harold had raised a little more than $78,000.
With Davis and Callis having garnered the support of their respective national parties, the media releases issued by both sides are already intense - particularly on the shutdown.
A spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said today that Davis wants to "throw our seniors under the bus" by dismantling Medicare.
"As if Congressman Davis’s irresponsible shutdown couldn’t get worse, now he and House Republicans are demanding that we throw our seniors under the bus in exchange for reopening the government and averting a fiscal crisis,” said Emily Bittner. “Congressman Davis’s reckless shutdown has now dragged on for 10 days, but he continues to refuse to work with Democrats on a reasonable bipartisan solution. Congressman Davis continues to be wildly out of touch with the reality in Illinois, where voters are looking for solutions, not more radical demands that hurt our seniors and the middle class.”
And on the other side of the aisle, the National Republican Congressional Committee says House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is Callis's "puppet master."
"Illinois families deserve to know that Callis is bought and paid for by Pelosi and will be a rubber stamp for her liberal agenda if sent to Washington," said NRCC spokeswoman Katie Prill.
“It’s shameful that Ann Callis is playing politics with the government shut down. The truth is, if Callis was in Congress, she would have stood with Nancy Pelosi and voted to shut down the government and refused to work with members from across the aisle to fix Washington’s spending problem."
The primary election is March 18, 2014, and the general election is Nov. 4, 2014.
The candidates' committees on third quarter reports:
Andrew Flach, a spokesperson for Davis, said the campaign intends to file its quarterly financial report with the FEC by the required deadline. The e-filing system on fec.org will still be accessible during the shutdown, Flach said. However, should a technical problem occur, Flach said all candidates would be required to file within 24 hours after the FEC resumes full operations after the shutdown ends.
As for the shutdown, Davis said:
“Like most of those I represent, I remain opposed to Obamacare, but a government shutdown is absolutely unacceptable,” Davis said. “It’s unfortunate that the President and leaders in Congress were unable to negotiate in good faith to put forth just a six-week plan to fund the federal government.
“We owe it to the hardworking taxpayers to continue working as quickly as possible to compromise and get this done."
Marshall Cohen, campaign manager for Callis, said the campaign is preparing financial paperwork per regulation regardless of a possible extension to file. If the FEC’s website is still not fully functioning, Cohen said Callis’ quarterly financial report will still be released publicly in some way.
Cohen expressed confidence in how the campaign is going so far.
“We are very happy with our position,” Cohen said. “We know we will have the resources to compete and get our positive message out there. We are humbled and honored by the community and able to build momentum moving forward.”
Cohen expressed the campaign’s stance toward the shutdown.
“They’ve held the entire country’s economy hostage just to score political points,” he said. “That’s not how you govern.”
Gollin’s campaign operations have not been directly affected by the shutdown, and he said he plans to release his quarterly funding report publicly in some way before the deadline regardless of the technical glitches the shutdown has caused.
As for the shutdown, Gollin said almost 60 percent of voters in the 13th Congressional District opposed the shutdown, fearful that government might default on its obligations. Gollin agreed.
“This is not a ‘stalemate.’ This is a hijacking,” Gollin stated in an email. “The government employees who are not working are nurses and doctors who take care of kids with cancer and wounded veterans, smoke jumpers who run toward raging fires in national parks, accountants and clerks that make sure Social Security checks go out, scientists who are looking for solutions to climate change. That’s the government they hate so much. But it’s the government I believe in.”
As of Oct. 9, Green has raised $1,000 for his campaign.
He said this of the shutdown:
“The government shutdown tells most ordinary people what they already know: the governing class – the rich, the corporate, the powerful – are against the people,” Green stated in an email. “What results is petty politics between and within both parties. It’s so nasty because the stakes are so low in terms of any coherent vision of the positive role of government.”
Questions to Harold’s campaign went unanswered.