Former Republican state Sen. Paul Schimpf visited Morris on Monday after he announced earlier that day that he would be running for governor in 2022.
Schimpf is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and served as the lead American attorney adviser to the Iraqi prosecutors in the trial of Saddam Hussein. He addressed a small crowd Monday at Honest Abe’s in Morris as part of a two-day press tour throughout the state.
“Today’s announcement is not something I have spent my life preparing for – far from it. Instead, it is a decision I came to over the course of the past year as I watched our state deteriorate,” Schimpf said. “Illinoisans are, in many cases, no longer proud of the state where they grew up. We’ve all watched as our friends, family and co-workers fled our state because of corruption, high taxes and excessive government regulation.”
Schimpf highlighted several priorities, including “responsible government,” “safe communities” and “renewed economic growth.”
“I think governor power is something that must be treated like a scalpel, not a sledgehammer, and only utilized as a last resort,” Schimpf said. “I will try to minimize these executive orders. I think that what the governor needs to do is the governor needs to be involving the Legislature in his policy decision-making.”
Schimpf pointed out that in the past two years, Illinois has seen a net loss of 70,000 residents who have fled the state to live elsewhere.
“People are leaving Illinois because they see that there has been no change to the same failed policies that we have had,” he said. “Unfortunately, that has just been increased government spending and increased taxes. I think if you look at our budgets for the past three years, the budgets have been come in at $38 billion three years ago, $40 billion and the latest one was $42 billion. Until people see that the state of Illinois is going to try get its spending under control, why would they stay here?
“They realize that there is no long-term change in policy. I am not advocating Draconian spending cuts, but I am just saying you have to try to hold spending level instead of spending every last dime that comes in. That’s what happened two years ago and in the last budget when we were in an economic downturn because of a pandemic; Gov. [JB] Pritzker and the Democrats still increased spending. Until people think that there is actually going to be a change in our state, I think they are going to vote with their feet.”
In 2014, Schimpf lost his campaign for Illinois attorney general to incumbent Lisa Madigan. He went on to win his 2016 campaign for state senate, where he served the 58th District, encompassing Jackson, Jefferson, Monroe, Perry, Randolph, St. Clair, Union and Washington counties. In 2019, Schimpf announced he would not seek reelection.
Senate Deputy Minority Leader Sue Rezin, R-Morris, also made an appearance at Monday’s news conference in a show of support for Schimpf’s campaign.
“I have worked with Paul Schimpf on the Veterans Committee,” Rezin said. “Paul was the lead person on the hearing dealing with the La Salle Veteran’s Home, which had so many deaths [from COVID-19] due to an outbreak there. Paul was the lead person on that and really took the governor to task. That’s the kind of person Paul is. He is a very good conservative who doesn’t just say no. He realizes that we have to come up with answers. He is consistently putting together answers that we need to put this state back on the right path.”
Schimpf made additional stops Monday in Rock Island and Algonquin, with news conferences planned for Decatur, Mount Vernon and Waterloo on Tuesday, weather permitting.