When U.S. Rep. Mary Miller steamrolled fellow incumbent and U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis in the June 28 Republican primary in the re-configured Illinois 15th District, most assumed it was her ticket back to Washington, D.C.
Miller, a Donald Trump acolyte who is completing her freshman term in Congress, faces Democrat Paul Lange of Mendon in the Nov. 8 election.
Lange has virtually no name recognition and little cash on hand for his campaign.
The plucky Lange has challenged Miller to a debate his team said would be hosted by a Quincy TV station in October and that Lange would show up no matter what. Miller’s camp has remained mum on the subject.
The 15th is now a 35-county district that stretches from Quincy, the biggest city in the mix, to just south of Danville and from the Metro East area north almost to the Quad Cities. It includes parts of Springfield.
The 62-year-old grain and cattle farmer and mother of seven from Oakland said she was “inspired” to run by Trump. Local political analyst Kent Redfield said the former president’s endorsement of Miller was a key to her win over Davis, a five-term incumbent.
Trump’s appearance at the Adams County Fairgrounds the weekend before the primary may have sealed the deal.
Miller is preaching to the choir: the extremely rural district went 68% for Trump in 2020. Trump has touted Miller as “a warrior for our movement.”
Miller has saved most of the rhetoric not for Lange, but for President Joe Biden, who she called “the most divisive president of our lifetime,” who “opened our border to an invasion of 5 million illegal immigrants and a flood of deadly fentanyl.” Miller co-sponsored articles of impeachment against Biden.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Miller has just over $247,000 cash on hand.
Lange, 67, recently retired as a commodities broker for a Quincy firm.
The Maryland native has lived in the Quincy area for nearly five decades, attending John Wood Community College and Quincy University, where he also taught.
Lange lost twice in bids to unseat Illinois state Rep. Art Tenhouse, a popular Quincy-area farmer, in 1994 and 1996.
This time around, Lange has fashioned a grassroots campaign attending fairs, local meet-and-greets and town square rallies.
According to the FEC, Lange has just over $1,200 cash on hand.
Miller has prided herself on endorsements from the National Rifle Association and the National Right to Life Committee.
Miller said she will continue to defend the Second Amendment “from the Biden gun-confiscation agenda.”
“We must acknowledge that every single child is precious and a gift from God,” said Miller about her pro-life stance. “I will always vote to defend life and will never back down in the face of pro-abortion radicals.”
Lange said he supports abortion and “a woman’s right to choose her own health care. I will fight for the lives of every woman in America, by allowing them the right to a consensual and safe pregnancy.”
Lange said it was time for the U.S. to join “other industrialized nations” in creating a single-payer health care system.
“Such a system is projected to bring down medical costs and put health care decisions back in the hands of doctors and patients instead of insurance executives,” Lange said on his website.
Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, email@example.com, twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.