Democrat Tari Renner lost to Republican incumbent Jerry Weller in 2004. Now that Weller is retiring, Renner is looking over the field and considering his options.
Illinois Wesleyan University professor Tari Renner, a Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Republican Jerry Weller in a 2004 congressional race, is considering another try now that Weller is retiring.
"I’ll decide by around the first of the month," Renner said Tuesday.
Before Weller, R-Morris, announced his retirement from the U.S. House of Representatives last week, the 49-year-old Renner had not planned to run for Congress again.
"My main reticence initially would be because I hate asking for money," said Renner, who is serving his third term on the McLean County Board.
But Weller’s departure changes the political scene, paving the way for a wide-open contest in the 11th Congressional District.
The district consists of all of LaSalle, Grundy and Kankakee counties, most of Bureau and Will counties, roughly the western half of McLean County and pieces of eastern and southern Woodford County.
Renner said his decision on whether to run would hinge partly on what the rest of the Democratic field looks like. The winners of the Feb. 5 partisan primaries will square off in the November 2008 general election.
Among the other potential contenders on the Democratic side is state Sen. Debbie Halvorson of Crete, Renner said. He is uncertain whether he would run if Halvorson, the state Senate majority leader, declares her candidacy.
If she opts against a congressional run, Renner said, "I would seriously, seriously consider the race."
Halvorson couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.
At least two other Democrats, Bryan Ballard of McLean County and Robert Gorman of Will County, already have expressed interest in running for the 11th District congressional seat next year.
In the 2004 race for the 11th Congressional District seat, Weller won a sixth term by collecting about 59 percent of the vote, compared with Renner’s total of about 41 percent.
Last Friday, Weller announced he would not seek re-election to an eighth term in Congress because he wants to spend more time with his wife and daughter.
A Weller spokesman said later the announcement had nothing to do with recent news articles about Weller that have raised questions about his ethics.
Some of those articles appeared in the Chicago Tribune, which this month reported Weller did not fully disclose his property holdings in Nicaragua, as U.S. House ethics rules require.
A few days before Weller’s announcement, a group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington him in its list of "22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress."
Reach Adriana Colindres at (217) 782-6292 or email@example.com.