Election 2020: 15th Congress Race

Mar 5, 2020

Eight candidates are vying for their party's nomination in Illinois' 15th Congressional District. Republican John Shimkus of Collinsville announced he won't run for re-election in 2020, leaving the 15th wide open.

The candidates seeking nomination include four Republicans and four Democrats. Illinois Public Radio station WILL sat down with the candidates ahead of the March 17 Primary.


  • Darren Duncan is a farmer who’s been active in local politics for several years, serving on his local school board and county board, and currently, as Vermilion County Treasurer. But he tells Jim Meadows that he’s not a career politician and that running for Congress had not been his ambition.

  • Dr. Charles Ellington of Camargo is a Douglas County native with degrees in both medicine and the law. Ellington has a family medical practice in Arthur and is on the faculty of the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield. He spoke with Jim Meadows.

  • Mary Miller has a background in education and farming --- teaching children in an area homeschool network, and managing a farm in Coles County with her husband, State Representative Chris Miller. Mary Miller tells Jim Meadows that she and other local Republicans were looking for a congressional candidate, and they ended up choosing her. And please note, we have amplified the audio in two of Miller’s answers, so that they are audible for our listeners.

  • Kerry Wolff is from Altamont, where he’s vice-president of the local school board. He tells Jim Meadows that if elected, he will follow in the footsteps of incumbent Congressman John Shimkus, who is stepping down after twelve terms in office.


  • Kevin Gaither attracted just 29 percent of the vote when he ran for Congress in Illinois’ 15th District two years ago. Gaither’s vote tally was about average for challengers who ran against Republican incumbent John Shimkus. But Shimkus is stepping down, and Gaither, a Democrat from Charleston, is running again. In the last of our interviews with the 15th District Democratic candidates, Gaither tells Jim Meadows why he thinks he can do well in a historically Republican district.

  • John W. Hursey, Junior is from Collinsville. He’s a high school English teacher who tells Jim Meadows about his approach to getting elected as a Democrat in a largely Republican district.

  • Craig Morton is a pharmacist in the south-central Illinois town of Salem, where he also serves on the city council. A self-described moderate Democrat, Morton tells Jim Meadows that one of his priorities in Congress would be healthcare, particularly the cost of prescription drugs.

  • Erika Weaver is an attorney in the Coles County public defender’s office and a member of the Mattoon school board. Weaver is the only African-American among the candidates, and says her early struggles as a single mother helped inform her candidacy. She spoke with Jim Meadows.