DECATUR – Decatur business owner Regan Deering won the 13th Congressional district Republican primary on Tuesday after a close race.
In November, she will face former aide to President Joe Biden, Nikki Budzinski, who secured a decisive victory in the district’s Democratic primary.
Budzinski said she anticipated a challenge in November, despite her advantage in a Democratic-leaning district.
“This is a swing district. This is a district that Democrats cannot take for granted. We have to work really hard. I’ve been working really hard,” Budzinski said.
The 13th Congressional district is a thin ribbon that stretches from Champaign to East St. Louis. Democrats in the state legislature redrew the district last year.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Budzinski was the most successful fundraiser in the race – she raised almost four times more than any other candidate.
Of the 39,000 Democrats who voted on Tuesday in the 13th Congressional primary, about three-quarters chose Budzinski. Financial advisor David Palmer earned the remaining quarter of the vote, according to preliminary results.
More Republicans voted in the 13th primary – on the day of the election – than Democrats. The total number of Republican votes was over 42,000.
Not all mail-in ballots have been counted, so turnout numbers are still preliminary.
Deering wins by slim margin
Deering learned she had won the primary after receiving a phone call from former federal prosecutor Jesse Reising.
Reising conceded after a neck-and-neck race on Tuesday night. Deering came out on top by just under 700 votes.
Deering said she plans to clash with Budzinski on her approach to dealing with inflation.
“The inflation costs are really hitting everyday peoples’ pocketbooks. That’s going to be a big issue on the ballot in November. If we’re going to win [in] central Illinois, it’s going to be on those pocketbook issues,” Deering said.
In a June debate hosted by Illinois Public Media, Deering stuck close to the Trump side of the Republican party. For example, she dodged a question about whether the 2020 election was free and fair.
The most moderate of the Republican candidates, former teacher and aerospace engineer Matt Hausman, placed third in Tuesday’s primary.
In Illinois Public Media’s debate with the Democratic candidates, Budzinski agreed that her policy priorities are economic.
On Tuesday, she explained her support for policies, in particular, that would lower medical costs for Americans.
Hannah Meisel contributed reporting.
Emily Hays is a reporter for Illinois Public Media. Follow her on Twitter @amihatt.