The Democratic field in the Illinois 17th Congressional District race is beginning to form up, with one potential candidate dropping out Thursday and another saying she will file nomination papers today.
East Moline Alderman Cheri Bustos said she will file candidacy and organizational papers today with the Federal Election Commission and plans to make a formal announcement on July 13. She had planned a June 30 announcement, but said she wanted to avoid clashing with the Fourth of July holiday.
Meanwhile, Porter McNeil, a longtime activist from Moline, said Thursday his family agreed this would not be the time to launch a bid for office.
“I just ran for a seat in the Illinois House 16 months ago, and the McNeil house agreed that the timing isn’t right for a campaign in the U.S. House,” he said.
Several Democrats have been eyeing a challenge to U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., who was elected as part of the GOP sweep last November.
Democrats think they have a good chance to retake the seat. The district is just one of about a dozen across the country that are held by Republicans but that the Democrats carried in both the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections. The just-completed redistricting process added a bit more of a Democratic flavor to the district, too.
Two Democrats have formally declared bids for the office. State Sen. Dave Koehler of Peoria and Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp have announced they’ll run. Gaulrapp just did so over the weekend.
This will be his second bid for Congress. He ran unsuccessfully last year against Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Ill.
Gaulrapp said jobs, education and energy will be his focus. In his seventh year as mayor, Gaulrapp said in an interview Thursday that he’ll emphasize his record, noting Freeport was able to end the 2010-11 fiscal year with a surplus even though the state was failing to pay its obligations to the city.
Freeport, which is 30 miles west of Rockford, has a population of nearly 26,000 people.
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There still are some questions about who will complete the Democratic field. Former state representative Mike Boland of East Moline has not made an announcement, but has been traveling the district. Previously, he has indicated he is leaning toward a bid. Boland said Thursday he doesn’t have a timetable for a decision, but has been getting a positive response.
There still is a question about the plans of former Rock Island Mayor Mark Schwiebert.
Some Democrats in Rock Island County are saying they don’t think he will run. But Schwiebert said earlier this week he had not made a final decision and intends to make an announcement about his plans next week.
The primary isn’t until March.
The newly drawn 17th District includes all of the Illinois Quad-Cities, as well as parts of Peoria and Rockford. It stretches to the state’s northern border.