TAYLORVILLE — Christian County Republican Party Chairman Seth McMillan will seek to unseat two-term state Senator Andy Manar in next year’s election.
McMillan made it official that he would seek the seat in the 48th Senate district Wednesday afternoon outside the Christian County Courthouse in Taylorville. During his introduction, McMillan identified himself as someone who could provide a fresh, downstate perspective, while accusing Manar of working for Chicago over the needs of his own district.
“Illinois needs a new direction from an environment of tax-and-spend, to one of growth and reform,” McMillan said.
McMillan attacked Manar on several issues, including the school funding reform legislation passed by lawmakers in August. Manar spent years spearheading the new school funding formula through the General Assembly. McMillan characterized the funding reform bill as a “Chicago bailout” that hurt downstate schools by not giving them more dollars.
Manar did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
The issue puts him at odds with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has begun to run television advertisements praising the legislation as a "landmark" for the state. Even Rep. Avery Bourne, a Springfield Republican who introduced McMillan on Wednesday, wrote an op-ed with Manar supporting the bipartisan agreement on education funding.
The differences with Rauner also includes the latter’s controversial signing of House Bill 40, which allows the state to cover abortions for its employees and Medicaid recipients, as well as protect access to abortion in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that legalized it.
McMillan said he “totally disagreed” with the governor’s decision to sign the legislation last month, but he did not go as far as some statewide Republicans who have called for Rauner to face an in-party challenge in next spring’s primary election. He said he would support whomever wins the primary.
“Right now, I support the governor’s re-election,” McMillan said.
McMillan said he would go into the statehouse looking for cuts to state spending to relieve the financial burden placed on residents. When asked later to identify specific programs or areas he would cut, McMillan said that he had not identified any in particular.
He also said in his announcement that he would push for a new capital bill to help improve downstate infrastructure, but said afterward he would have to get into the statehouse before he would know how to fund what is likely to be a billion-dollar endeavor.
The race could be one of the most competitive state Senate races as statistics compiled by IllinoisElectionData.com, which ranks districts by how strongly Democratic or Republican they are, finds the 48th to be the most right-leaning Senate district currently held by a Democrat.
Along with serving as the county party chairman, McMillan owns Taylorville-based McMillan Landscape Company and previously served on the Taylorville School Board.