MURPHYSBORO — U.S. Rep. Mike Bost said he intends to seek a third term as Illinois’ 12th congressional district representative.

The Murphysboro Republican said this past week that what he’s found most challenging about his time in Washington is the political divisiveness that has seemingly overtaken the process and the American people.

“I have been frustrated with the extremists wanting to cause trouble and scream about the issues and want to make a splash on social media, even to the point of, I believe, causing a lot of hate in this nation that I’ve never seen before,” he said.

Bost said “that weighed on me” as he decided whether to run again. As did the fact that the job takes him away from his wife, children and grandchildren more than he would like.

“But I prayed it out, weighed it out. I know what we’ve got to accomplish and that’s why I’m going back to the people to ask them to send me to continue to work for them,” Bost said.

“My hope is they’re happy with the job I’ve been doing and they’ll send me back to do that.”

Bost said he also feels called to run again to continue pushing the issues he promised voters he would in the last two election cycles, including reforming the Affordable Care Act and for measures he believes will improve the regional economy, either directly by supporting an infrastructure improvement bill or indirectly by reducing environmental regulations for energy producers.

In his current term and the next, if elected, Bost said he also intends to continue to seek accountability at the Marion Veterans Affairs Medical Center and better living conditions for the people affected by a housing crisis in Cairo.

As well, he said the opioid crisis sweeping Southern Illinois continues to be an issue of major concern for his office, as it will be for his candidacy.

Bost said that he likes “keeping a finger on the pulse” and listening to his district and taking the concerns of residents of the 12th District to Washington.

He said that his climb up the seniority ranks is also something he would like voters to take into consideration on the November 2018 ballot. Bost said seniority affords a lawmaker more influence with leadership, better committee assignments and more knowledge about how to navigate the process and be more effective for one’s district. “Experience and know-how in working with people there comes with time,” Bost said.

Sometimes, he said, accomplishments are measured by helping to move a measure forward. Other times, it’s about stopping something harmful to the district from making it into a bill that’s a “major accomplishment.”

Bost said he supports President Donald Trump’s tax reform effort. Further, he said passage of that could be the springboard for congressional attention on Trump’s plan to invest $1 trillion into improving transportation infrastructure across the nation.

Bost said that passage of an infrastructure bill could bring needed jobs to Southern Illinois while improving regional roads, bridges, highways and airports; repairing levees and locks and dams on the rivers; investing in sewer and water upgrades for communities; and improving high-speed internet access throughout the district.

Where it concerns the Affordable Care Act, Bost said he made a promise to “repeal and replace,” but Republican efforts to do so have failed. “We sent it over and we’ve begged the Senate to send it back,” Bost said. “We have to do something.” Bost said he’s willing to compromise but believes that something has to be done — and soon.

“I voted to ‘repeal and replace’ because that’s what I promised the people I would do,” Bost said. “Now, if they send us another bill from the Senate and it doesn’t go to that level, but it really does some cures, I’m all for working in a bipartisan manner because the system is collapsing and it is collapsing quickly.” Bost said he supports the executive action Trump has taken to dismantle key parts of the act. “We’ve got to make enough members aware that we’ve got to fix the problem,” Bost said.

Bost also addressed the criticism he’s received by some for declining to hold in-person town hall style meetings. Bost said his primary concern was and continues to be that there are a number of people who would show up with the primary purpose of disrupting the forum.

Bost said he also has concerns about safety at this time, citing the June shooting incident in Alexandria, Virginia, as Republican members of Congress practiced for a charity baseball game. House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise was injured in the incident, during which police fatally shot James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville after he opened fire. Bost was not present at the practice, though Belleville is part of the 12th congressional district.

Bost said he continues to hold tele-town halls and offers to meet with smaller groups in his office. Bost said he also regularly hosts forums organized around a specific topic such as agriculture or the opioid crisis during which people can express their opinions and ask questions.

“I have no problem with people disagreeing with me,” he said. “Quite often, when they disagree, I take that back and weigh it out and use it. I will do the best I can. But to have someone just automatically disagree because I’m a Republican or they think someone else should be in this seat — that would not be productive,” he said. Asked who he thinks is responsible for driving the political divide of today, Bost said it is extremists on the left and right.

As for Trump, Bost said he supports most though not all of the policy positions of the president. But he also questioned his Twitter habits and the ensuing reaction to his comments. “Sometimes, I think the controversy with him comes from the fact that people are so easy to react to him,” Bost said. “That doesn’t mean I agree with him on everything, but sometimes their reaction is greater than the comment is worth. But it’s because of who he is. He’s like a lightning rod.”

The 12th Congressional District includes the counties of Alexander, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Monroe, Perry, Pulaski, Randolph, St. Clair, Union and Williamson counties and part of Madison County.

molly.parker@thesouthern.com

618-351-5079

On Twitter: @MollyParkerSI ​

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Molly Parker is general assignment and investigative projects reporter for The Southern Illinoisan.

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