Republican candidate for state representative Doug Jameson
Republican candidate for state representative Doug Jameson hopes to pull an upset in November over long time incumbent, Democrat Jay Hoffman of Belleville.
But as campaign coffers can often foretell election outcomes, the job of competing with a candidate who sits on close to $1 million will be daunting for Jameson whose campaign committee currently holds approximately $12,000.
"I knew up front that there was no way I could compete with union money and trial lawyer money," Jameson said.
"Our plan was just to outwork (Hoffman). "Reach more voters, knock on more doors, shake more hands and lend an ear."
Jameson, a realtor and Army veteran, said his "high energy" campaign that's relying heavily on social media and voter contact is on pace to knock on as about as many doors as votes cast in the last mid term election - close to 30,000.
Politics wise, he's playing to a base that would like to help retire the unpopular Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, who according to a Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll earlier this year has a 68 percent disapproval rating, worse than the 63 percent disapproval rating for Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Jameson says that the special interest campaign contributions Hoffman receives from labor and the trial bar shows that the incumbent is "more interested in working for Mike, while I am fighting for the 113th (House District)."
"Vote for anyone other than Mike Madigan as Speaker," Jameson said. "He is the central focus of the ruination of Illinois. We've got to change course."
Policy wise, Jameson said he would work with "anybody" to reduce property and income taxes so that the state can become more attractive to business development and so that people will want to remain in Illinois, rather than continuing on a trend of outstate migration.
He said the state of Illinois is ranked among the worst in the country for net population loss, and last in terms of new home construction. He said that on average those who do move in state are earning $19,000 less than those who are leaving.
Research conducted by the Illinois Policy Institute shows the state had an all-time high net loss between tax years 2014 and 2015, which it attributed as an "indictment of the policy status quo in Illinois."
"Our tax base is being eroded, and the people who are left are subjected to higher and higher taxes," he said.
"We need parity with our neighboring states and need to reverse the exodus."
Hoffman has served as state representative since 1991, with a couple of interruptions in between. One was forced by the 2010 election in which Dwight Kay defeated Hoffman by a margin of 51.6 to 48.4. Hoffman then packed up and out of the 112th House District in Collinsville to move to the 113th House District in Belleville where he succeeded Democrat Tom Holbrook.
Holbrook left the General Assembly to chair the Illinois Pollution Control Board, until he was picked to replace disgraced St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney in 2013.
In his last three elections, Hoffman has faced opposition and won solidly each time. He defeated Republican Melinda Hult in 2012 by a margin of 65.6 to 34.4 and Hult again in 2014 by 59.5 to 40.5. He defeated Republican Katherine Ruocco in 2016 by a margin of 59.1 to 40.9.
While primaries tend to have lower turnout than general elections, votes cast in this year's primary in March show that Hoffman earned about two and a half times more votes than Jameson, 8,258 to 3,331.
Jameson said that while he hopes to focus on policy issues in the months leading up to the election, he fully expects he will face negative attacks that will focus on his "bitter" divorce in 1995 and a DUI arrest in 2004, both in Sangamon County.
He said he was charged 14 years ago with driving under the influence in Springfield after having been stopped for speeding. He said that following a promotion at work, he went out for a drink, but had also been consuming cold medicine. He faced two counts - driving under the influence and blood alcohol content, the latter which was dismissed and the former which resulted in six months court supervision.
"I have not repeated any of that behavior," Jameson said.
In his divorce, he said that 23 years ago his former wife had sought an order of protection from him "ex parte," meaning he was in Virginia on military training at the time, and "there wasn't any threat." He claims that she sought the order in order to keep him from being aware of a planned move across state lines which would have violated pending matters. After a court hearing, Jameson said a judge vacated and terminated the OP order.
"It was a contentious divorce," he said, complicated by his wife's "very vicious attorney." But since it was finalized, he said his relationship with her has been congenial for many years.
"Absolutely amicable and cooperative," he said.
He said the issue has been brought up by a local radio personality, but that it has been a difficult decision on whether to defend the claims because doing so could "impugn the character of my children's mother."
"In general, I state that I am an imperfect Christian who strives to be a better person than I was yesterday," he said.
As to how his past legal issues may impact him in the campaign, he said he expects the issue to "show up on one of those postcards" right before the election.
Whether or not his personal problems surface in negative campaigning, he believes his past has helped shape his understanding of struggles that other people routinely face.
"It sure helps me in being able to have compassion," he said. "Going through life's struggles certainly has honed or improved my ability to understand the sacrifices of others."
He said that for the good of their children he and his ex wife learned to cooperate.
"It's the reason why you cooperate," he said.
Another thing he has learned from his divorce experience is that he believes the family court system in Illinois needs review in terms of parental rights.
He said that in Illinois, fathers are limited, on average, to only 32 percent of the visitation time while 50-50 parity between parents should be the goal.