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15th District Democratic Candidates Sound Off On Impeachment

Illinois 15th District Democratic candidates (L-R) Erika Weaver, Craig Morton, John W. Hursey Jr., Kevin Gaither, appearing together at a candidate's forum in Charleston on Sunday.

Most House Democrats voted last month in favor of impeaching President Trump. At a candidate’s forum in Charleston Sunday, three Democrats seeking to run in Illinois’ 15th Congressional District said they would have done the same — while a fourth added a qualification.

John W. Hursey Jr. of Collinsville, told the audience at the Charleston Carnegie Public Library, that the grounds for impeaching President Trump were clear to him.

“I’m guided by one set of values when it comes to, not just the presidential impeachment, but all of criminal justice,” said Hursey, a high school English teacher. “And that’s, did they do it? And it looks like he did it.”

Kevin Gaither of Charleston said he supported impeachment, but thought House Democrats should have worked harder to win over voters, so they would pressure Republicans who will vote in the Senate’s impeachment trial.

“Yes, I would have voted for it,” said Gaither, who was the Democratic nominee for Illinois 15th District congressional seat in 2018. “The Senate Republicans seem to have no spine, or independent thought at all.”

Craig Morton, a pharmacist and city councilman in Salem, suggested that President Trump wanted to be impeached, that his actions made impeachment something that was bound to happen eventually.

“Congress doesn’t have a choice,” said Morton. “But at least they are exercising the checks and balances which the nation is founded on.”

Public defender and Mattoon school board member Erika Weaver did not say directly if she would have voted for impeachment. She said she would have listened for a sound argument backed up by evidence.

“I’m a public defender,” said Weaver. “My job is to be a guardian of the process, to be a guardian of the constitution. That’s what I would do. If we can get it out there, yes, I would vote for it.”

The question on impeachment was one of several that Weaver, Morton, Gaither and Hursey answered during a forum sponsored by the Charleston Huddle (formed by local participants in the 2017 Women’s March) and Coles Progressives.

The four candidates are competing to be the Democratic nominee for Republican John Shimkus’ seat in the U.S. House. Shimkus (who joined other Republicans in opposing impeachment, but was out of the country during the December House vote) is retiring as the 15th District’s representative after twelve terms in office.

Four Republicans are competing to take Shimkus’ place on the November ballot: farmer and Vermilion County Treasurer Darren Duncan; Dr. Charles Ellington, a family physician from Camargo; Mary Miller of rural Oakland, a teacher and farmer, and wife of State Representative Chris Miller; and Altamont school board member Kerry Wolff.


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Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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