Democratic challenger eyes seat in U.S. House

By Paolo Cisneros

While the presidential race and other, higher profile local elections have been snatching up most of the media attention in recent weeks, other candidates vying for positions in Champaign County have been working to get their message across to voters who might otherwise not take note of their campaigns.

One such election is the race between U.S. Rep. Timothy Johnson, R-15, and Democratic challenger Steve Cox.

Cox, who entered the race after becoming disenchanted with what he called Johnson’s failure to stand up to the policies of President George W. Bush, said the residents of the 15th Congressional district understand that a change in representation is necessary.

“Our incumbent representative has not taken effective action to address the things that the executive branch of our federal government has done,” he said. He cited Bush’s policies on the Iraq war, the use of wiretapping, and torture as examples.

“We have a responsibility to challenge (the president) in this way,” he said. “What people in the 15th Congressional district need to realize is that it’s not being done for them.”

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    Cox said he expects to spend a substantial amount of time over the course of the next few months speaking to community and University groups as a way of getting his message across.

    “I am willing to talk at any function, any place, any time that I have an opening in my schedule,” he said.

    Phil Bloomer, Johnson’s press secretary, said the representative’s record will be his primary ammunition against Cox over the course of the election season.

    “He’s been a successful lawyer, business owner, small farm operator, and public servant of the people of central Illinois for about 40 years,” he said. “They’ve shown their support for him year in and year out because he represents their views and above all he serves their interests and their needs.”

    Bloomer said Johnson has no special election strategy planned for this year. He will continue to work on behalf of his constituents in the hopes that it will be enough to send him to Congress yet again, he said.

    Supporters of both Cox and Johnson said winning the campus vote would be important for either candidate to win the seat in Washington.