Fight Begins for Key Battleground House Seat in Illinois

Democrat Ann Callis launches her first TV ad, with an eye past next month’s primary.

Rodney Davis, Illinois District 13
National Journal
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Scott Bland
Feb. 25, 2014, 1 a.m.

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.

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