The November ballot in the 96th House District race could give voters three choices, with an appointed Republican joining Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, in the contest, and a Green Party candidate gathering signatures to do so.
Charlie McGorray, 69, a retired fire department captain in Decatur, where he lives, made his formal announcement last week. No Republican ran in the primary in the 96th, but McGorray was later appointed by GOP officials and he gathered needed signatures to secure his ballot spot.
John Keating II, 32, of Springfield, said on Facebook that he is running under the Green Party banner.
“You’ve often seen me organizing and leading rallies across central Illinois, but we have to do more than take to the streets and scream for change, we need to elect people who are going to fight for those changes at the Capitol,” he wrote.
Scherer, 63, a retired teacher from Decatur, is seeking her fifth two-year term.
McGorray said at his announcement that he thinks Scherer is a “rubber stamp” for the “Chicago machine” and House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and said “little has been done” for the 96th.
“My primary focus is constituent service and representing my district,” Scherer said in an email. “I am willing to make difficult choices and stand up to those in power, including Speaker Madigan.”
McGorray got a disability pension from the Decatur Fire Department in 2007, after 25 years on the job, after he collapsed while fighting a church fire and suffered heart damage. He was part of the ownership team of McGorray’s Golf & Grille, a restaurant and indoor golf business in Decatur, from 2010 to 2014. He said it ended with a business bankruptcy that has been settled. He also said he has worked as a consultant developing three other local businesses.
“My background gives me a tremendous amount of experience working with different government agencies because we did that with the fire department,” he said. He said helping start four businesses added to that experience.
“It’s a very, very difficult business climate in the state of Illinois with all the rules and regulations,” he said.
He said the increased minimum wage, which is ramping up in stages to $15 an hour by 2025, also adds to worker’s compensation costs — producing a “snowballing effect for the small businessman.” He said he thinks coming increases should be analyzed for the effects on business, and he would “absolutely” consider changing the law so it doesn’t reach $15 an hour, if warranted. It rose to $10 on July 1.
He opposes the proposed constitutional amendment to allow a graduated income tax in the state.
McGorray is a member of the National Rifle Association and a defender of gun rights. On abortion, he said he is “pretty much pro-life,” but also thinks the country should “pretty much stay where we’re at right now,” with abortions allowed.
McGorray has an associate’s degree in biology and another in liberal studies, from Olney Central College, and another such degree in fire science from Richland Community College.
He served two years in the Army.
He is married and has two daughters, a stepson and seven grandchildren.
Keating, who said he has been an activist and community organizer for most of his life, has voted in Democratic primaries but considers himself a liberal independent.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis, Keating said, he was among five people who created an organization called Education and Action Together, or EAT. He said the group has been active in Springfield as well as small towns in central Illinois.
His Facebook picture shows him wearing a mask bearing the words “Abolish ICE.” He said the work of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement should be handled by other agencies.
“I don’t agree with deporting non-criminal aliens,” he said.
He also said he thinks the 96th needs a progressive, and he doesn’t think Scherer fits that bill, as she has opposed legalization of marijuana and abortion rights.
Keating said he supports gun rights, and would keep the ramp to the $15 minimum wage in place. He is also for the graduated income tax amendment.
Keating said he and his fiancé, who he has been with for a decade, have three children and two foster children. He attended Springfield High and Southeast High, and earned a GED diploma.
To get on the ballot, Keating mst obtain at least 168 valid signatures, and they can be collected electronically, said Matt Dietrich, spokesman for the State Board of Elections. Under a court order, the filing period for third-party candidates this year is July 13-20.
Scherer said in her statement that her constituents had received many benefits of her “working tirelessly,” including funding for high-speed rail, health care, roads and bridges, pensions and the higher minimum wage. She also said she listens to her constituents.
Contact Bernard Schoenburg: Bernard.email@example.com, 788-1540, twitter.com/bschoenburg