Hursey challenges Shimkus for House seat in 15th District

John Hursey

A southern Illinois Democrat says he will challenge Republican Congressman John Shimkus next fall and in the same breath concedes he has no chance of winning.

John W. Hursey Jr. of Collinsville has filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to run in the 15th Congressional District race as a Democrat. The district runs from Collinsville in the west to the Indiana state line in the east.

The 38-year-old Hursey says he has been involved in politics for much of his life, volunteering for various organizations, including Barack Obama's campaign. However this is his first time running for office.

Hursey, who is a school teacher, says he recognizes his campaign will be a long shot, saying he doesn't have a chance of winning because of time and money disadvantages. The 61-year-old Shimkus has served in the House since 1997. He received 71 percent of the vote last year.

“It’s not just that it’s a highly Republican district,” says Hursey. “It’s that wealthy donors and large special interest groups have made it almost impossible for candidates from a lower socio-economic status — like myself — to be able to compete effectively against entrenched incumbents.”

Even though Hursey describes himself as “brutally honest” about his odds of winning, he is forcing himself to be optimistic.

“John Shimkus has already raised $1 million with more on the way, so we can’t beat him at that game. If we force him to play by a different set of rules, though, then he is vulnerable.”

Hursey says he is running on a message of unity.

“I’m not running on issues,” Hursey says. “Issues are divisive. Polls will tell you that Americans are more divided than ever, but I think when you talk genuinely with most concerned citizens, there is broad agreement about what we need to do and how we need to get there. Even on so-called ‘wedge’ issues like abortion, immigration and race, I sincerely believe that most people want the same thing, even if only in broad strokes. Let’s start with common ground and work from there.”

When asked how he intends to respond to the Trump administration, Hursey says he is not running against Donald Trump and thinks it’s a mistake to insult and belittle the President.

“Half of the country doesn’t want to have their choice second-guessed,” He says. “Democrats need to focus on providing a better alternative.”

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