MURPHYSBORO — Pointing to federal policy he says stymies small business, weakens the military and threatens the coal industry with possible extinction, state Rep. Mike Bost will forgo a 10th term in the General Assembly and instead seek the 12th District Congressional seat, he announced Monday.
The Republican told an audience of some 100 supporters on the last leg of a three-city swing in Belleville, Mt. Vernon and then his hometown of Murphysboro that the American dream might not be there for his grandchildren should D.C. continue a path of over-spending and over-regulating.
“They’re the reason I am up here today,” Bost, R-Murphysboro, started in making his announcement. “I’m worried and disappointed with what’s been happening in Washington, D.C., and I’m worried about the future of our country, about the future they are going to have.”
Several of the national issues he said he is concerned with -the national debt and the country’s ability to pay its bills among them -mirror those in a General Assembly still trying to figure out what to do with a $100 billion pension crisis and the lowering of the state’s bond rating because of it.
But Bost said many of the state’s problems, including recently released unemployment figures of 9.2 percent, stem from decisions made in the U.S. capital, and he was quick to point to the Affordable Health Care Act, stiffer clean air laws, higher taxes and more that he believes curbs job growth and a stronger Southern Illinois economy.
A former Marine out of high school, Bost said he is willing to take the fight to D.C.
“It’s only going to get worse, I’m afraid, unless someone steps up and says, ‘Let’s change this.’ Let’s turn the course and let’s start doing something real radical like providing more jobs and paying for our bills. ... We need government to simply provide an opportunity for success by getting out of the way.”
One area he wants the government to remain involved is in funding the military and support for veterans, he said.
Bost acknowledged Democrats’ criticism of his well-known, viral tirades he has had on the General Assembly floor, including throwing a large stack of paper into the air while challenging the state’s Democratic leadership. But in response to those criticisms, including that such tirades have no place in Congress, Bost said he would not want to vote for someone who lacks his passion.
He also is confident he can win in a district that has been held by a Democrat for decades, just as his state district was when he was first elected in 1995. Bost said he has succeeded by building a constituency among all voters despite party affiliation and plans to do the same in the congressional district that includes the Metro East.
Bost, who will give up his state seat when his term expires in 2015, will go up against Doug Bucshon, an Illinois Army National Guard veteran and former sports journalist in the 2014 Republican primary. The winner will face off against current Rep. Democrat Bill Enyart of Belleville, who announced in May his intentions to seek re-election.
“I look forward to debating the issues with whoever my opponent will be at an appropriate time in the future. The people of Southern Illinois sent me to Congress to fight for jobs, protect Medicare and Social Security, and ensure the future of Scott Air Force Base. There will be a time to campaign, but right now I am focused on the marching orders given to me by 12th District voters,” Enyart said in a written statement.
Supporters in Murphysboro are confident Bost can carry the district, including possible successor Sharee Langenstein, a Murphysboro attorney who points to the candidates’ voting records.
“They’re going to look at the 20 years of service that Mr. Bost has put in to service and compare voting records and they are going see the people of Southern Illinois are aligned with the voting record of Mike Bost as opposed to the voting record of Mr. Enyart,” she said of voters.
A former candidate for Jackson County state’s attorney, Langenstein said she is considering running for Bost’s seat.
Jackson County Republican Party Chairwoman Gloria Campos said voters will recognize Bost’s passion is needed in Congress to protect their interests, and Bost’s long-held seat will help him in his bid in the larger district.
“I think it is time for the 12th Congressional District to see the light. People are getting fed up with so much inaction. We need to have a balance in our nation and look for strong people with strong conviction who will fight for what we in the district represent,” she said.
Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens agreed.
“Mike Bost served Murphysboro and Southern Illinois for many, many years in the statehouse and I’m just really happy to see somebody from Murphysboro moving up the ladder and representing us in Congress,” Stephens said. “I don’t think any mayor would be upset if a resident of their town was a U.S. representative, and I don’t just say that because of that but because he is highly qualified.”