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The fight is on for two high-profile Metro East congressional seats

St. Louis Post Dispatch

Friday, July 7, 2017  |  Article  |  By Kevin McDermott

Candidates--Federal (13)
In the latest indication that national Democrats are serious about targeting two Republican-held congressional seats in the Metro East next year, two new candidates with party ties and apparent party backing have announced they're running.

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly will seek the Democratic nomination to the 12th Congressional district, currently held by Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro.

And Betsy Londrigan, a Springfield-based fundraiser who has worked with Sen. Richard Durbin and other top Democrats, will seek the party's nomination to the 13th Congressional district, currently held by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville.

As the Post-Dispatch reported Sunday, Kelly and Londrigan both have been hyped by national Democrats as serious contenders to challenge the GOP in the 12th and 13th, two sprawling downstate districts that both encompass parts of the Metro East.

Both candidates issued formal news releases Thursday morning announcing their candidacies. Both announcements were promoted to local reporters by the Washington, D.C.-based Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

While both the districts encompass wide swaths of rural southern Illinois, the 12th District is generally viewed as the more conservative of the two. That nuance was reflected in the announcements.

Kelly's announcement for the 12th stresses his law-and-order background and vows to challenge special interests. “I’m not afraid to take on the tough fights,” Kelly says in the statement.

Londrigan's announcement told of a harrowing health care challenge her family has faced, and promises to fight for “access to affordable healthcare, protecting our jobs, educating our kids and defending Medicare and Social Security.”

Both announcements take the Republican incumbents to task for their votes in support of the House Republican health care plan that is intended to replace Obamacare.

Londrigan's announcement specifically ties Davis to Donald Trump, while Kelly's announcement makes no mention of the controversial president. A post-election analysis from last year shows Trump won Bost's district by about a 15-point margin, while winning Davis' district by about 5 points.

Bost's office, when asked for a response, re-issued a previous statement that touted Bost's legislative support for farmers and small-business owners and vowed to “stop Nancy Pelosi from taking control of this seat.”

Davis spokesperson Ashley Phelps issued a statement noting Davis' family, too, has faced health care issues, and saying he "wants to prevent another 108 percent premium rate hike for those on Obamacare, including for those with pre-existing conditions."

"Many Democrats, like Betsy Londrigan and Senator Durbin, are quick to criticize the American Health Care Act but what is their plan to prevent Obamacare from collapsing?" asked the statement.