Johnson drops re-election bid

At a press conference in Urbana on Thursday, six-term U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-15, announced his decision to drop his re-election bid, saying he no longer wishes to make the personal sacrifices that come along with the office.

“Aside from the missed birthdays, births and weddings, there are some specific critical family issues that require my ongoing attention,” he said. “Taken together, I cannot adequately serve the 15th District, campaign in the new 13th District, be in Washington, D.C. and fulfill my obligation to my family. It would be a disservice to us all to attempt that.”

The Republican has served in public office for 44 years, having joined the Illinois General Assembly in 1976 and the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000. He has often split from his party to stick to his principles, including his harsh criticisms of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he is proud of being extraordinarily connected to his constituents.

“The single proudest thing I can look back on is the legacy of the fact that there is a real face associated with real public service,” he said, in reference to his relationship with his constituency.

His decision not to run leaves his ticket on the 2012 ballot for the 13th District vacant. Many names have been put forth as possible replacements, but so far any talk of a replacement is only speculatory. Johnson stated that he has a particular person in mind to fill his spot but would not offer a name.

“I know them all (the potential candidates), and I like and respect them all,” he said.

Johnson said his decision to drop out of the race was unrelated to the possibility of losing his seat.

“If I felt we were not going to win the election, it would cause me a lot more angst about my decision,” he said.

Jon Schroeder, a local farmer and supporter of Johnson’s, was present at the announcement. He said he understands the politician’s decision.

“Speaking as a farmer, I appreciate his years of service for agriculture,” he said. “He will be missed, but there is an ebb and flow to politics.”

The 66-year-old Congressman said “three more years could be 50 percent of the rest of my life” and added that he was concerned by his colleague Mark Kirk’s recent stroke.

Johnson has made it clear that he does not intend to fade out of the public eye. His potential future endeavors include returning to practicing law and perhaps even teaching. However, Johnson declared that he would never become a Washington lobbyist.

He said he worked well with people of differing beliefs throughout his career.

“I appreciate my friends, I appreciate people who have been my adversaries because quite frankly that’s the way the system works,” he said.

Johnson intends to resign at the end of his current term. At the announcement, he was surrounded by his tearful family members.

Johnson’s family supports his decision, said Buzz Johnson, the representative’s son.

“Today, our family emotions are excitement and happiness for our dad, and we support him 100 percent,” he said.

Johnson stated that his successor should be nominated by Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady some time after April 20. His successor will then have to face David Gill, a Democrat whom Johnson has defeated in three past races.