News Local/State

Carl Spoerer Says He’s A Democrat Who Could Beat John Shimkus In 2018

Democratic Congressional candidate Carl Spoerer.

Carl Spoerer (D-Mahomet), candidate for US Rep. in Illinois' 15th Congressional District. Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

Candidate Carl Spoerer says 2018 could be the year that a Democrat defeats incumbent Republican John Shimkus in Illinois’ 15th Congressional District.

Spoerer, who lives in Mahomet, near Champaign-Urbana, is one of two Democrats competing in the March 20th primary election, for the chance to run against Shimkus, who was first elected to Congress in 1996. The other is Kevin Gaither of Charleston.

After a close victory that year, Shimkus has enjoyed comfortable wins against Democrats ever since. In 2016, the Collinsville lawmaker ran unopposed.

But Spoerer says things are different this year. First he says opposition to the Trump administration is causing more people to become politically active.

In addition, Spoerer contends that a growing number of voters, both Democrats and Republicans, are questioning Shimkus’ effectiveness.

“When they look around and see how bad things have gotten, especially when you go further south in the district”, said Spoerer. “The bottom five counties are falling into abject poverty, and people are wondering where have all the jobs gone, and what has our congressman done to help that out?”

Spoerer is critical of the Republican tax reform law Shimkus supported in December. He says it does nothing to prevent jobs from moving overseas and mainly favors the wealthy and corporations.

“If I was going to give a tax cut, I would give all of that to the working class people, and not to people who don’t need it,” said Spoerer, who runs his own small telecom business.

Arguing that federal farm subsidy programs are largely benefiting corporate producers, Spoerer says the federal government should do more to fill the “debt gap” facing family farmers.

“If someone … has a shortfall in covering their debt payment, let’s fill that gap”, said Spoerer. “That would be the biggest thing that we could do to help family farms.”

Spoerer is a supporter of the Affordable Care Act, and says he advocates a single-payer healthcare system similar to those in other countries. A former college rugby player, and current volunteer coach for the University of Illinois women’s rugby club, Spoerer says he’s made friends among rugby players around the world.

“My (rugby) friends around the world have to go to the hospital”, said Spoerer. “They love their single-payer system. All these scare tactics that are being used about quality of treatment, waiting lines --- they’re just not true.”

When it comes to immigration policy, Spoerer says he sees good points in the arguments of both sides. He favors continuation of the DACA program, but says the nation’s borders need to be protected. But he offers only limited support to the border wall called for by President Trump.

“I think a physical structure in urban areas probably makes some degree of sense”, said Spoerer. “But outside of those metropolitan areas along the border, absolutely not.” Instead, Spoerer says high-tech electronic measures and “boots on the ground” are better for guarding less populated areas, and that a border wall could easily be surmounted by “a hundred-dollar ladder”.