Craig Morton owns a Medicine Shoppe pharmacy franchise in the south-central Illinois town of Salem, where he says he sees the impact of high prescription drug prices. It’s an issue he says he wants to take on in Congress.
A Doctor of Pharmacy who is serving his second term on the Salem City Council, Morton told Illinois Newsroom’s Jim Meadows that current prescription prices are “unsustainable”.
“When I graduated in 1995, that little vial of insulin, which is the same thing that I have in my refrigerator at the pharmacy, it was eight or ten dollars back then,” said Morton. “That same bottle of insulin (today) is 300 dollars. It’s not any more expensive to make that insulin than it was 25 years ago. There’s just got to be some kind of transparency behind it.”
Morton describes himself as a center-left, moderate Democrat, with fiscally conservative views.
“I’ve always been big on the deficit,” said Morton, “and I always was under the impression that the Republicans were cognizant of deficits, but obviously that’s not true anymore. I’m just right in the middle, to the left. … I was trying to think of what I’d agree with, with the Republicans right now, especially with this administration.”
If nominated, Morton would be a Democrat running for Congress is an historically Republican district. But citing his ability to win election twice to the Salem City Council, he says he says a growing number of voters in the 15th District may be ready to vote for a Democrat.
“I probably talk to three to four hundred people a day, either constituents or customers or patients,” said Morton. “And they are willing, I know they are willing to think out of the box and maybe vote Democrat.”
Morton is critical of the Republican-sponsored tax cut passed by Congress in 2017.
“It did not trickle down to the communities, the small communities,” said Morton. “It went straight to the corporations. I see it on the city council, in our budget. It’s just not there. We should be disgusted. We should be in an uproar, that that money is just gone. Now my grandkids or great-grandkids are going to have to pay for it, somehow.”
On the topic of agriculture, Morton says a big concern he hears from local farmers is the ongoing trade war with China.
“Trade and business is built on trust,” said Morton. “And we threw that out the window with these tariffs. Number one is building that trust. This administration, this legislature, has to understand that. That’s what business is made on. And that is what I’m hearing from the farmers in my district.”
Despite a low unemployment rate, Morton believes many in the 15th District are struggling economically, due to low wages and a lack of workforce training. He wants the federal government to work with community and technical colleges to help more people in rural areas get the training that local employers say they need.
“I would say there are plenty of jobs out there,” said Morton. “Every factory in my area, in my town, wants to hire, I hear that over and over, but there is a skills gap.”
Besides Morton, the Democratic candidates in the March 17 primary for Illinois’ 15th District congressional seat are Coles County public defender and Mattoon school board member Erika Weaver, high school teacher John W. Hursey Jr. of Collinsville and Kevin Gaither, the 2018 Democratic nominee. The Republican candidates are Mary Miller (wife of St. Rep Chris Miller), Altamont school board member Kerry Wolff, Vermilion County Treasurer Darren Duncan and Camargo physician, Dr. Charles Ellington. They’re competing to succeed Republican incumbent John Shimkus of Collinsville, who is retiring from Congress after twelve terms in office.