DECATUR - A congressional hopeful stopped in Decatur on Wednesday as part of his bid to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Phil Hare of Rock Island.

Bobby Schilling, a Republican restaurant owner from Moline, said he was inspired to campaign for the seat after seeing the country's economy worsening while Congress continues to accept raises for itself.

"I think the most important thing for people is to see that I am a uniter, not a divider," Schilling said. "Everybody is focusing on why these guys are the bad guys instead of working together toward a common good."

Schilling said he hopes to curb government expenditures.

"The biggest thing is out-of-control spending by both sides," Schilling said. "We need responsible spending. Everything is spiraling out of control."

Local business owner Steve Daniels attended the evening fundraiser at Jimmy Ryan's. Daniels said he hopes Schilling will be the independent-minded person with business friendly policies he's sought in a representative for Illinois' 17th Congressional District.

"As far as I'm concerned, Phil Hare is a puppet for Nancy Pelosi," said Daniels, referring to the speaker of the House. "I think the policies that are being pursued in Washington are wrongheaded. I'm thrilled that somebody with the independence and experience of Bobby is running in this race."

Local business owner and former Decatur city Councilman Dan Caulkins said he supports Schilling because he is a level-headed family man and will represent a different view on health care than Hare.

"Health care is the big issue for me," Caulkins said. "I've tried to work with Congressman Hare, and he is unabashedly for a single-payer health care system. I feel (that plan) is detrimental to the country and the long-term well-being of the people."

Schilling, 46, owns an Italian restaurant in Moline. He's married with 10 children, ranging from 23 years to one month. He faces Hare in the Nov. 2 election.

The 17th District of Illinois stretches from the Quad-Cities area down through Central Illinois and into the Decatur area.

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