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WASHINGTON — A Southern Illinois congressional race that is pivotal to control of Congress in 2019 is becoming a magnet for national donors, with the two candidates entering April with campaign war chests approaching or surpassing a million dollars.

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, will report having roughly $1.15 million in the bank as of April 1 when his first-quarter fundraising report is made to the Federal Election Commission later this month, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Brendan Kelly

Kelly

Meanwhile, his Democratic challenger Brendan Kelly had a robust first three months of 2018 fundraising, and entered April with roughly $950,000 in the bank, spokesman Sam Barrett said.

Candidates have until April 15 to file their first-quarter fundraising reports.

Bost is a two-term congressman who easily defeated a Democratic opponent in 2016. But in Kelly, the St. Clair County attorney, Democrats think they have recruited a good challenger and nationally have named him one of their top recruits, promising financial aid.

President Donald Trump won the 12th District of Illinois, which encompasses parts of Southern Illinois, by almost 15 percentage points in 2016. A separate study found that the district ranked 19th out of 435 nationally in the rate of its shift from Democrat to Republican in presidential votes compared to 2012.

Bost had roughly $685,000 in his campaign coffers at the end of February, according to his latest FEC filings, so his new total indicates he raised roughly a half million dollars, or more, in the first three months of the year.

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

In addition to the campaign's hefty spending, national outside "dark money" groups are expected to weigh in heavily in this contest and, potentially, in Illinois 13, where Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, will face Democrat Betsey Dirksen Londrigan in the Nov. 6 election.

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