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Eye On Illinois: Davis passes on pursuing Pritzker to push Pelosi

Rodney Davis had a choice of two political opponents. Instead of the one from Chicago, he picked the one from San Francisco.

Davis, a Taylorville Republican, has served in the U.S. House since 2013 and on Monday announced he’d seek a sixth term. This time he’ll seek to represent the 15th District, which incorporates many of the same communities of his current 13th District.

There is some chance for local political intrigue, as the new 15th also includes current U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, R-Oakland. Miller has not announced her 2022 plans, which could include a run at 12th District incumbent Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro. Either path results in a primary against a better-positioned incumbent.

But Davis didn’t address Miller in his campaign announcement for two reasons. One, that would be punching down, given his more established record and the endorsements from 32 County GOP Chairmen and 14 state lawmakers in the district. Two, he has bigger political fish to fry.

“Republicans are primed to retake the House next year,” Davis said in a statement, “and I’m ready to work with a new Republican majority to finally fire Nancy Pelosi and hold the Biden Administration accountable for their massive failures.”

The release included a boost from Bost, who also named the enemy: “2022 will be the year we finally retire Nancy Pelosi, and we need strong conservatives like Rodney Davis to get the job done.”

Pretty much boilerplate campaign language, but it shows mainstream unity, which isn’t to be taken for granted these days. Yet the announcements and endorsements could’ve been entirely different had Davis seen his political future in a different light.

For months Davis wouldn’t squash speculation he might challenge Gov. JB Pritzker in his 2022 reelection bid. While waiting until the new Congressional maps were finalized is understandable, Davis still felt comfortable predicting the incumbent’s demise.

“I think Gov. Pritzker is going to be a one-term governor,” Davis told WTAX Radio on Sept. 27. “I think we Republicans will nominate a candidate that will rally Illinoisans around him or her and be able to change Illinois.”

Why won’t Davis be that nominee? He may have more faith in one of the four primary candidates – an endorsement between now and June would seem in order – or it could just be Davis feels better suited for Capitol Hill, though not enough to challenge U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth.

Davis’ only political defeats were his 1996 Statehouse and 2000 mayoral bids. He worked closely with former U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (another day one endorsee) and covets chairmanship of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

In that role, he could find himself working with Pritzker on statewide projects. He’ll just have to retire Pelosi first.

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.