SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — One congressional race in Illinois, viewed by many as a toss-up, is gaining national attention on both sides.
Voters will soon head to the polls to send either Democrat Nikki Budzinski or Republican Regan Deering to Congress to represent Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, which includes parts of Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, Decatur and Edwardsville. National Democratic leaders have flown to central Illinois to secure Budzinski’s chance at winning.
“This election is so critically important,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the House of Representatives Democratic Caucus Chair, said at a campaign event for Budzinski Wednesday. “That’s why Nikki’s candidacy is so significant. There are five or 10 seats out of 435 in the House of Representatives that will determine who holds the majority in November. This is one of them.”
Her campaign is also getting financial support. Budzinski’s campaign said they raised over $1 million in campaign contributions in the third quarter of 2022.
She said the people that fund and support her campaign include firefighters, electricians, and teachers in the 13th District.
“Because I worked in the labor movement, I’ve been building some really great support across the labor movement in this district,” Budzinski said. “I know with their help, we’re gonna get the vote out and win in November.”
Deering has also been focused on fundraising from supporters. When asked if Deering, a multi-millionaire and investor in ADM, is putting any of her own money into her campaign, she did not provide a direct response.
“We have been running a solid campaign since the beginning,” Deering said. “We won a tough primary and are continuing on in the general [election] reaching voters where they are. So we’re focusing on small dollars and mid-dollars as well, people that are definitely looking for a change in Washington.”
When it comes to the issues on top of voters’ minds, the candidates are paying attention to rising inflation.
“I think we need to find ways like supporting middle class tax cuts, which is something I would very much support,” Budzinski said. “Also, making healthcare more affordable.”
If elected to Congress, Deering said she would support cutting federal spending.
“We just simply need to stop this spending, we need to rely on our economic experts to talk about some short term solutions,” Deering said.
Budzinski and Deering also differ on their voting rights stances. Budzinski said she would support expanding voting rights and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021, which would amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“With a Democratic House Majority, we’re gonna get that done,” Budzinski said. “When I get to Congress, I’m going to be proud to sponsor that legislation.”
Deering said she supports putting in place voter ID laws. Opponents of this said it could make it more challenging for people to vote.
“Americans’ everyday lives require them to have a valid ID,” Deering said. “I don’t think that necessarily, it’s going to be a place of extra burden for those that are trying to show an ID to be able to vote as a U.S. citizen and participate in our democracy.”
On the issue of abortion, Budzinski, who interned for Planned Parenthood in college, opposes a national abortion ban and supports protecting abortion rights at the federal level.
Deering, a business owner, also opposes a national abortion ban but believes its up to individual states to decide whether to restrict access to abortion.
“The conversation for me around abortion is a personal one,” Deering said. “I was adopted at just a few days old. I had a birth mother that chose to give me a chance at life and I try and continue to respect and honor that every single day.”
She does however support more maternity care resources.
“I want to take every opportunity we can to support women in crisis facing an unplanned pregnancy, and obviously women who choose life for their children,” Deering said. “An opportunity to create great public private partnerships to be able to offer pregnancy resources, reproductive health care, maternal benefits, is always going to be a priority for me.”
But there’s at least one issue both candidates agree on: lowering prescription drug costs, which was included in the Inflation Reduction Act.
“We should be capping the cost of insulin for everyone, young and seniors,” Budzinski said. We need to lower the cost of prescription drugs. It’s exorbitant. I’ve been meeting with people throughout the district who are saddled with huge debt and also with rising healthcare costs that, with other rising costs, can’t afford it.”
While Deering does not support the Inflation Reduction Act, she would support a separate piece of legislation that addresses the issue.
“I would be in support of capping the cost of life saving drugs, such as insulin, and [I would] like to see those kinds of things in a stand alone bill, because I do believe that they fall as a bipartisan issue and could get support from both sides of the aisle.”