A key battleground House campaign gets off and running Tuesday with the first TV ad from a touted Democratic challenger.
Former Judge Ann Callis released her first commercial Tuesday, a biographical ad highlighting her work with veterans in the legal system. Callis, the favored candidate of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Sen. Dick Durbin, is seeking the Democratic nomination in next month's primary to take on freshman Republican Rep. Rodney Davis in November.
Both parties have tabbed Illinois's 13th District as a competitive race to watch in the fall. Davis won his first term in 2012 by just over 1,000 votes.
Callis's TV ad will build her name recognition for the March 18 primary, in which Democratic professor George Gollin has already started TV advertising. But the spot is also an opening play for the general-election eight months later.
Callis's nonpartisan judicial experience was one of the things that first got Democrats excited about her candidacy, but Republicans have since used elements of Callis's tenure—including a low rating for local courts from a tort-reform group and a low rating for Callis personally from lawyers at the beginning of her tenure—to attack the Democrat.
Her campaign's ad pushes back with a career highlight: Callis's formation of a "veterans' court" to help process and treat honorably discharged, nonviolent offenders. The program won praise from, among others, Republican Rep. John Shimkus, who nominated it for an award a few years back and has since complimented Callis's judicial tenure.
The new TV ad featuring the program has broader appeal than a typical spot targeted at a Democratic primary. It's the sort of thing you would expect to see at the start of a general-election race—and it's a reminder that the campaign is well underway, only a few months into the year.