Enyart nabs Democratic nomination in Illinois' 12th District
Former Illinois National Guard leader William Enyart was selected Saturday as the Democratic nominee in the state’s 12th Congressional District, putting the Belleville attorney squarely into the electoral arena for the first time.
A committee comprised of chairmen of counties encompassing the 12th District made the decision on Saturday at Chester City Hall. The process became necessary after former St. Clair Regional Superintendent Brad Harriman bowed out of the contest due to health reasons. The Belleville News-Democrat reported that Enyart's selection was unanimous.
“As Major General of the Illinois National Guard, it was my job to solve problems and protect our community,” Enyart said in a statement after his nomination. “In the past year, I led the Guard response efforts to historic flooding that hit Southern Illinois and helped families recover from the storms and save their homes.”
He added that the “Southern Illinois values we share of hard work, honesty and fairness need to have a place in Congress.”
“I will fight to make sure that there are good jobs for our families, Medicare for our seniors, and an economy that Southern Illinois families can have confidence in,” he said.
Enyart was one of a number of candidates who submitted questionnaires to the committee, making the move official shortly after he stepped down from his posts as adjutant general of the state of Illinois and commander of the Illinois National Guard. His military background may be an appealing attribute in a district that includes Scott Air Force Base, one of the bigger employers in the Metro East.
Other notable political figures that applied, according to the News-Democrat, included state Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, and former U.S. Rep. David Phelps, D-Eldardo.
Enyart will go up against Jason Plummer, an executive at R.P. Lumber who was the Illinois Republican Party’s nominee for lieutenant governor in 2010. Plummer spent the past week touring the district with U.S. Chamber of Commerce National Political Director Robert Engstrom. The Chamber has run ads on Plummer’s behalf in recent weeks.
Plummer in a statement welcomed Enyart into the contest, but added “this race is not about myself or Bill Enyart.”
“It is about Southern Illinoisians electing a congressman who will represent their values, fight the ballooning size of the federal government and help create a business-friendly environment in the district,” Plummer said. "These are serious times that call for serious leaders to provide serious solutions for the problems the residents of the 12th District are facing.”
Political prognosticators have slated the 12th Congressional District contest as competitive, and the race already drew the attention from the two national parties. The National Republican Campaign Committee designated Plummer as a “Young Gun,” while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had included the district in its “Red to Blue” program.
(Start of update) Enyart's campaign announced on Monday that it will be the beneficiary of the DCCC's "Red to Blue" program. That provides select Democratic candidates with organizational and financial assistance.
"As a community leader, proven problem-solver, and father, Major Gen. Bill Enyart has a deep commitment to serve Illinois and our nation,” said DCCC Chairman Steve Israel in a statement. “Major Gen. Enyart understands what hard working southern Illinois families are going through, and he will build a strong, grassroots campaign that fights to create jobs here at home, protect Social Security and Medicare, and responsibly reduce the deficit.” (End of update)
Representatives from both national Republicans and Democrats have also thrown barbs. Earlier this week, a DCCC spokeswoman criticized Plummer for, among other things, not releasing his tax returns. And after Enyart received the nomination, a spokeswoman for the NRCC chastised the “secretive” process in which Enyart was selected.
Republicans in the 13th Congressional District were in a similar situation after U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson bowed out of his re-election bid after he won his primary. Once Republican Rodney Davis received the nomination, the DCCC chastised Republicans for a “secret backroom deal” in which the former aide to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, received the nomination.