SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – One of the tightest congressional races in the nation is in Illinois’s 13th District.
The 13th District Congressional election include Calhoun, Jersey, Macoupin, Greene, and Montgomery counties, plus parts of Madison and Bond counties.
The election is a rematch from 2018.
Democrat Betsy Dirksen-Londrigan lost to incumbent Congressman Rodney Davis by a margin so thin, had she gotten two more votes per precinct across the district, she’d be the incumbent congresswoman, she said.
“It was really close,” Dirksen-Londrigan said.
She lost by less than 1 percent of the vote.
The Springfield, Illinois native and mother of three who had never run for office is trying to keep Davis from a fifth consecutive term.
Dirksen-Londrigan had never run for office in 2018.
A moment in 2017 changed things: her opponent joined President Trump and Republican congressmen to celebrate their plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as “ObamaCare”.
“It was like a punch in the gut to me. I just thought, ‘either they don’t know what this is going to do to families, or they don’t care what this is going to do to families,” Dirksen-Londrigan said. “I do know. I do care. Somebody has to get in and stand up for us. I decided I would do it.”
Her passion was personal, she said.
In 2009, her son Jack who was 12-years-old at the time was in an intensive care unit for three weeks and even put on a ventilator, before beating a tick-borne illness that nearly killed him.
“It was terrifying,” she said.
Dirksen-Londrigan, who is Roman Catholic, said a priest gave her son Last Rites on two occasions.
Health care coverage saved her family, she said.
“We have a congressman who has been on a mission to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” Dirksen-Londrigan said.
Davis, who was featured in an Oct. 15 profile by Fox 2/News 11, said he wanted to fix the parts of ObamaCare that didn’t work while protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Dirksen-Londrigan is a former teacher in the Teach For America program, which focuses on improving education at low-income schools. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
She’s been a fundraiser for Senator Dick Durbin, (D) IL, a development officer for the Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, and the first director of Alumni Relations for the University of Illinois, Springfield.
Dirksen-Londrigan has refused corporate PAC money.
Her grandparents were central Illinois farmers.
Dirksen-Londrigan said in a district that stretches from Edwardsville to Champaign, she was also focused on helping farmers face the uncertainties of climate change and develop new markets for their crops.
“As soon I get on the highway, I can see the fields, I can see the horizon. It’s like, ‘I’m home,’” Dirksen-Londrigan said.
She could soon be leaving home for Washington though, she insisted, only for part of the time.