A Galesburg businessman said he plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., in next year's 17th Congressional District election.
Mark Kleine, a Republican, said "the time for partisanship is long past us, and we need to elect a United States representative for Northwest Illinois who is going to put our district ahead of politics."
Kleine is a longtime Galesburg businessman. He founded a local John Deere dealership in 1994, eventually expanding to six operations. He sold the business, Kleine Eqiupment Inc., in 2013.
Kleine also is the founder of a housing development firm and is on the boards of OSF St. Mary's Medical Center and the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development. He and his wife, Jeannette, also co-founded a pediatric wellness center at the hospital, which is named after them.
Kleine filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to run as a Republican, but his announcement didn't emphasize his party affiliation, instead pointing to what it said was his independence.
"He believes that his experience as a businessman, his perspective as a political outsider, and his independence from both parties is what we need to move America forward," a news release issued last Thursday from Klein's campaign said.
Kleine, one of three Republicans to express interest in the office, has donated to several Republican campaigns, including Bobby Schilling's in 2012. But he also gave $1,000 to Bustos' campaign in March of last year, according to FEC records.
However, the two have differences over Bustos' handling of reports of high lead levels in Galesburg children. An Associated Press article in April 2016 about the safety of drinking water across the country highlighted the problem.
Kleine told a radio station last week that Bustos over-dramatized the matter. Bustos, who faced similar criticisms in last year's campaign, has said she was advocating for her constituents, and her office noted she secured money from the federal government to help replace hundreds of water lines going into Galesburg homes.
Two other Republicans, Craig Cameron of Chicago and Jon Schuh, Jr. of Galena also have filed papers with the FEC to run in the 17th District. The filing period for next March's primary is Nov. 27 through Dec. 4.
Bustos already has said, in February, that she would seek another term in Congress. She easily won re-election last year over a little-known opponent but in a district that President Donald Trump also won.
Bustos has gained some national prominence this year, arguing that her party should focus more intently on economic issues and be attentive to matters at home. She has been critical of the president, but she also has declined to join other Democrats in some more aggressive tactics, such as a lawsuit accusing Trump of violating the U.S. Constitution by financially benefiting from foreign states.