CARL RAY GULF WAR VETERAN 90-91 Runs for 18th Congressional District in Illinois.
Democrats take campaigns into neighborhoods across 18th District in bids to challenge incumbent Schock
D.K. Hirner and Carl Ray, Democratic candidates for the 18th Congressional District nomination. Article from:
By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
Two Democrats are vying for the right to challenge U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, in November.
So far the race between D.K. “Deirdre” Hirner and Carl Ray in the 18th Congressional District has been notable because both candidates say knocking on doors has been a big part of their campaign strategies. In districts with more than 600,000 residents, the neighborhood campaigning has not been used by many candidates for the U.S. House.
“I’ve been walking the neighborhoods and visiting with residents,” Hirner said.
Ray said his own door-to-door feedback has convinced him that lots of people are angry with Congress and the federal government in general.
“That frustration they feel is something I share,” he said.
Ray, 44, lives in Washington, Ill., and is seeking political office for the first time. He interned for Gov. Jim Edgar in the 1990s and also has a degree in political science from the University of Illinois. He is a veteran of the first Gulf War.
Hirner, 55, lives in Springfield and was executive director of the Illinois Environmental Regulatory Group before resigning Oct. 30 to campaign for Congress. Hirner, a Hannibal, Mo., native, also was deputy chief of staff for former Missouri Gov. Bob Holden and was a policy director for the late Gov. Mel Carnahan as he campaigned for the U.S. Senate.
Hirner’s address, which is outside the 18th District, is not an issue to her. She points out that the law allows people to run for Congress in any Illinois district, regardless of where they live.
Ray said Hirner’s residency is a big issue and lots of people mention it to him.
There are points upon which Ray and Hirner agree. They both believe the economy and the need for jobs are top priorities for residents of the 18th District — and should be for all members of Congress.
“We must halt the outsourcing of our prosperity, our manufacturing jobs, our means of production,” Ray said.
Hirner was excited to learn that President Barack Obama has a jobs-creation plan unveiled during Wednesday night’s State of the Union speech.
“If I am congresswoman for the 18th District, then I will work with the administration” on legislation to create jobs, Hirner said before Obama’s speech.
She wants to make sure the 18th District gets its share of the $4 billion in federal stimulus money coming to Illinois this year.
Ray said some Democrats seem worried that the U.S. Senate campaign in Massachusetts signals a trend. But Ray said Republican Scott Brown’s win in a state that has traditionally elected Democrats is not a blanket endorsement of Republicans.
“There has been a strong Republican tradition in the 18th District, but they’ve had Republicans in the past who were more moderate,” such as former U.S. Reps. Ray LaHood and Bob Michel, Ray said.
He believes that Schock’s more conservative bent will work against him in the general election.
Hirner has raised more than $40,000 in the primary but loaned her campaign $10,000 and has collected $7,500 more from a pair of political action committees for labor groups.
Ray has raised a little less than $5,000 for the primary race and said he has been careful to budget that money.
Both Democrats say they will have better fundraising opportunities after they win the party’s nomination.
Schock, 28, is an incumbent who served in the Illinois House before winning the congressional seat in 2008. He has been a solid fundraiser in previous campaigns.
Schock’s spokesmen said he does not plan to comment on opponents until a Democratic nominee is chosen