State Senator Prepares GOP Primary Challenge to Shimkus

by Nathan L. Gonzales October 6, 2015 · 2:18 PM EDT

State Sen. Kyle McCarter is poised to launch a primary challenge to GOP Sen. John Shimkus in Illinois’ 15th District later this week, according to GOP sources.

The news shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. McCarter has been openly discussing the possibility with fellow Illinois Republicans since at least August, when I wrote about him in The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report.

In the last few days, McCarter has been calling various Republicans across the state and has unveiled a new campaign logo (noticeably void of the office he intends to seek) at the Little Egypt parade in Salem on Saturday. According to one GOP source, McCarter may even announce in Collinsville, Shimkus’ hometown, even though only a portion of the city is in the 15th District.

The congressman had $1.2 million in the bank on June 30, but is not unbeatable in the primary, according to local sources. At the same time, GOP insiders believer McCarter would need significant help from outside anti-establishment groups to put a real scare into Shimkus.

Shimkus, who was first elected in 1996, has a lifetime 66 percent rating with the Club for Growth, but his 2014 grade fell to 34 percent in 2014. That’s the type of score that could attract some attention to the race if McCarter is deemed to be credible. But there is no evidence that the club, or another major outside group, is poised to get involved immediately.