Democrats Select Retired General Bill Enyart as Illinois 12th District Nominee
After a month in limbo, Democrats have a new nominee in Illinois's 12th Congressional District. The district's county Democratic chairs unanimously selected former Illinois National Guard commander Bill Enyart to take the reins Saturday afternoon, about a month after primary winner Brad Harriman dropped out due to health issues. Democratic Rep. Jerry Costello is retiring after this term.
Ten candidates submitted applications for the Democratic nomination, but Enyart's strong resume made him a quick, consensus choice: Enyart, who is also an attorney, resigned from a five-year post as the Illinois National Guard's top general earlier this month to pursue the Democratic nomination. The selection committee of county Democratic chairman began a set of public interviews with the candidates began at 9 a.m. local time Saturday morning, and they chose Enyart around 2 p.m. Central.
In an interview with Hotline On Call, Enyart said his military experience -- he enlisted in the Air Force at 19 years old and served in the Guard for three decades -- will help him carry on Costello's work in the district.
"The largest economic engine in the northern part of the district is Scott Air Force Base," said Enyart, who worked closely with the air wing there at the Illinois National Guard. "I know the programs coming down the road. ... The district needs a congressman who's ready to step into the breach right now, after Jerry Costello's done such a great job for it."
Both President Obama and Sen. John Kerry carried the district as Democratic presidential nominees in 2008 and 2004, but Republicans -- behind nominee Jason Plummer -- have expressed optimism about capturing the 12th District in November. It's a predominantly white, working-class district of the sort that's played host to many Republican gains over the past few years, and Enyart's late entry into the race gave the GOP a head start.