The 21st Show

Illinois 2020 House Races Preview; Small Town Banking Wars; From Journalist To YouTube Cooking Star


(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Illinois was home to several competitive House races last year, and two of them flipped to the Democratic Party. We’ll look at Representatives Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood, and the challengers they might face next election day. Plus, Leland is a village of 900 people in LaSalle County. But it’s recently become home to a dispute between two banks. And, we’ll speak with Adam Ragusea about how went from working in public radio to becoming a Youtube cooking star.

It’s been just eight months since the 2018 midterm elections, but congressional candidates are already gearing up for the 2020 House races next November. 

You might recall that in 2018 there were several competitive districts here in Illinois. On Election Day, two Congressional seats flipped to the Democratic Party.

Lauren Underwood unseated Republican Randy Hultgren in the 14th district. Sean Casten, another first-time candidate for Congress, was the first Democrat to be elected in Illinois’ 6th District in decades. And in the 13th District, Democrats came very close to flipping a third seat in the race between Betsy Dirksen Londrigan and Republican incumbent congressman Rodney Davis. 

Now, Representatives Casten and Underwood are getting ready to defend their seats. And in the 13th district, Londrigan has already announced that she’s trying again to unseat Davis in 2020. 

Jim Fuller is a reporter at The Daily Herald who has been reporting on Representative Lauren Underwood’s campaign. Also from The Daily Herald, we were joined by Marie Wilson, a reporter who has been following Representative Sean Casten. Bernie Shoenberg, political writer and columnist with the State Journal Register, also joined us to talk about what appears to be round two of the Davis-Londrigan race in 2020.


Most small towns would love getting the attention of just one bank. But one town in LaSalle County is getting lots of attention from two. 

Leland is a village of a little more than 900 people - and last year, First Midwest Bank closed its branch there. That closure set off a dispute over who would get to take over the space. The mayor even got involved. Now, Leland is home to two branches from two different banks both vying for Leland’s customers.

Steve Daniels reported on it for Crain’s Chicago Business. Carol Jo Fritts is president of First Neighbor Bank, which has nine locations in central and southern Illinois. She joined us to talk about the state of banking in Illinois’ small towns. Mike Doherty is a senior economist at the Illinois Farm Bureau. 


Adam Ragusea has been in the public radio world for years. He’s worked at NPR stations all over the country including at WBUR in Boston, and at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Most recently, he’s been a professor of journalism at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.

But in the past few months, his career took an unexpected turn... into the world of YouTube.

Adam uploaded "Making New York-style pizza at home" back in December when he started to produce cooking videos. Since then, it’s gotten more than 5.1 million views. 

Adam’s following on YouTube has only grown since then. His channel has nearly 350,000 subscribers. His fans like his straightforward style. One commenter said, “Doesn’t skip important bits, straight to the point, good job sir keep it up.”

And now, the journalist and professor is turning his YouTube channel into his full time job.

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