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Sen. Durbin endorses Londrigan in 13th District race

The News Gazette: Sen. Durbin endorses Londrigan in 13th District race

By Tom Kacich

Calling her "our strongest candidate to turn this district over to a Democratic member of Congress," U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Saturday endorsed Betsy Londrigan of Springfield in the four-way race for Congress in Illinois' 13th District.

Although Durbin's support was not unexpected — he has known her familyfor decades and she worked for him as a fundraiser — it was the second big boost of the week for Londrigan, the only woman in a race that includes Erik Jones of Edwardsville, Jonathan Ebel of Urbana and Dr. David Gill of Bloomington.

Earlier, Londrigan got the endorsement of Emily's List, a national pro-choice Democratic organization that, like Durbin's support, should yield her more financial backing.

Durbin announced his support for the 46-year-old Londrigan, who has not run for any office before, at stops in Springfield and at the Illini Union in Urbana.

"I don't want to say anything negative about the other candidates," said Durbin, whose Springfield home is in the 13th District. "I think overall, she really reflects this district. She has a feeling for the families in this district and I think that's the most important thing to bring into this race."

Since announcing her candidacy in July — and again Saturday — Londrigan has emphasized health care issues and incumbent Rep. Rodney Davis' support for a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act.

"When I saw Rodney Davis and Donald Trump celebrating on the White House lawn, celebrating that they had just voted to rip health care away from millions of Americans and over 40,000 in our own district, celebrating a bill that in his own district that would have closed rural hospitals and caused huge job layoffs ... I thought to myself that is such a disconnect to the people in our district," Londrigan said.

Durbin made a similar charge.

"When the incumbent congressman, Rodney Davis, voted for the Republican health care bill, he was out of touch with people who live in this district. He was ignoring what he was being told by the administrators of all of the hospitals in this district, by the doctors and the nurses, the community clinics, the disability community and so many others who were telling him that this was a disastrous vote," said the 20-year senator.

Although the 13th District is considered potentially Democratic, Davis has not been seriously challenged since 2012, when he won a three-way race by 1,002 votes. But Durbin said Saturday that 2018 could be a Democratic year.

"We're a year away and shame on us if we take it for granted," he said. "We have to work for it. And it's not just a matter of showing up with a D on your jersey. It's a matter of convincing people that we stand for the values that are important to them and we bring balance to the government in Washington at a time when it is desperately needed."

Durbin has endorsed in the 13th District Democratic primary before with mixed results. In 2014, he supported Ann Callis in a three-way primary that she won. But in 2012, he was behind Greene County State's Attorney Matt Goetten, who narrowly lost to Gill.

Also Saturday, Durbin assailed the House Republican tax reform package that was released Thursday.

He called it a "secret tax bill" that would lead to "massive tax breaks for the wealthiest people in America and for the biggest corporations, exactly the opposite of what we ought to be doing to help the people in the 13th District and to help the state of Illinois."
He especially hit a provision that would eliminate the tax deduction for interest paid on student loans.

"Why do we want to make it any tougher for the students and families with student loans to pay off their balance?" Durbin said. "And yet the Republicans do that so they can give tax breaks to the wealthy."

He said the GOP tax package — which he dubbed "the Davis Republican plan" — had provisions that would hurt Illinoisans.

"We'll be taxed on the taxes we pay to the state of Illinois, whether they're income taxes or sales taxes," he said. "At a time when state and local taxes have been going up, they've just added taxes by eliminating the deduction we've counted on since the creation of the federal income tax."