SPRINGFIELD — Betsy Dirksen Londrigan broke through a crowded Democratic field for the Illinois 13th Congressional District nomination, setting up a November showdown against three-term Congressman Rodney Davis of Taylorville.
With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Springfield's Londrigan had 45.7 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election results. She earned more than double the votes of second-place finisher Erik Jones, an Edwardsville attorney.
“We are going to throw ourselves into this race, and we are going to be the stones that cause the ripples that will cause the wave that will wash over the 13th District come November," Londrigan told a crowd of supporters at an election party at JP Kelly's Pub in Springfield.
Londrigan was able to defeat Jones, Urbana professor Jon Ebel, Bloomington physician David Gill and Springfield teacher and activist Angel Sides.
In a statement, Jones thanked his supporters and told them "the fight must continue."
"Tonight, I’m asking my supporters keep up the fight and remain focused on defeating Rodney Davis this fall," he said. "It’s the only way to finally make Illinois families a priority again in Washington."
Ebel said he was disappointed, but added that Londrigan is a good person who cares about Central Illinois and will make a fine member of Congress.
"I think she will be an incredible improvement over the elected official we have now," Ebel said.
Gill complimented the Londrigan campaign and said he was excited to see what she can do against Davis.
"She’s demonstrated the ability to put together a very strong organization and to put out a message that appeals to voters,” he said. “Ultimately, the goal is to end Rodney Davis’ time in Washington.”
Sides could not be reached for comment.
A professional fundraiser, Londrigan has previous employers that includes U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.
Those fundraising chops have come through in her campaign, as filings with the Federal Election Commission show she has raised more than $560,000 since she started her campaign last year. She also secured endorsements from Durbin, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand — whose name has been floated as a potential presidential candidate in 2020 — the United Steelworkers union and EMILY's List, a national organization that aims to help elect Democratic female supporters of abortion rights.
This is the first time Londrigan has run for public office. She has said her motivation for running was the unsuccessful attempt last year by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump to pass the American Health Care Act, which would have repealed the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. It was a personal matter for Londrigan, who has shared the story on the campaign trail about her son, Jack, who was in intensive care for three weeks when he was 12 years old due to a life-threatening illness.
If the Republicans' healthcare plan had been in place, Londrigan said families who had to go through a similar ordeal would be ruined financially.
The healthcare message was the key talking point in her campaign, as she said she would support fixing the Affordable Care Act and introduce a public option that would compete with private health insurance companies.
The November battle could prove to be a costly one, as Davis reported $1.1 million on hand at the end of last year.
In a statement Tuesday night, Davis said he was committed to making Washington work for the people of the 13th District.
"I look forward to building on our successes that have contributed to the lowest unemployment in nearly 50 years, a growing economy, and bigger paychecks for 90 percent of American workers," he said.
In Londrigan, Macon County Democratic Chairman Jim Underwood sees a candidate with deep Central Illinois roots.
"I think it’s going to be great for us in the fall," Underwood said. "I think she’ll be able to show that Rodney has not done much for the district."
Macon County Republican Chairman Bruce Pillsbury acknowledged he didn't know much about Londrigan, but said he saw no reason for voters to send Davis packing.
"I think Rodney has a strong base, and I don’t see anything that he’s doing wrong for him to be voted out," Pillsbury said.