When he left Illinois for Congress in 1997, 15th District Congressman John Shimkus said he would limit himself to only a handful of terms. But ten years into his tenure in office, Congressman Shimkus suddenly realized he was no longer a supporter of term limits. He has been in office ever since.
This broken promise is a 20-year record that challenger Kyle McCarter showcases to prove how Washington warps people.
In fact, “career politicians” is one of the things McCarter inveighs against the most.
“Career politicians tend to make decisions that are not necessarily in the best interests of the people that they say that they serve,” McCarter said in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News. “They are typically decisions that enable them to maintain their power, their position, and their pension. And I believe that, unfortunately [Representative John Shimkus] has now become part of the problem in Washington. I believe that I have the energy, the ideas and the track record as a reformer in this state to make a difference in Washington. And that’s why I’m running.”
Breitbart tried to contact the Shimkus campaign on three separate occasions over a four-day period to get a response to his opponent’s term limit charges, but the campaign never returned any calls for comment.
McCarter is well known as one of the more conservative members in the Illinois Senate. He is strongly pro-life, pro family, supported by the National Rifle Association, pro-business, and a fiscal hawk. He has racked up the endorsement of famed conservative Illinois activist Phyllis Schlafly and also got the nod from the Club for Growth, only its second such endorsement in the 2016 primaries. The Club says, for instance, McCarter would “bring a fresh breath of fiscal conservatism to Washington.”
Both Schlafly and The Club for Growth (CFG) have also said incumbent Shimkus has become the epitome of what is wrong with Washington. As CFG has it:
While Kyle McCarter would bring a fresh breath of fiscal conservatism to Washington, his opponent, John Shimkus, is the epitome of what’s wrong with Congress. Shimkus was first elected nearly 20 years ago; that’s eight years longer than the term limits pledge he made in 1996. And Shimkus has an anemic lifetime rating of just 66% on the Club for Growth scorecard, with his annual rating plummeting to 34% in 2014. The Club for Growth PAC is delighted to endorse Kyle McCarter, a real economic conservative, to replace Shimkus.
And as Schlafly’s Eagle Forum puts it:
Now that John Shimkus has spent nearly twenty years in Washington, it’s clear that he is part of the problem. He repeatedly supports irresponsible spending bills that add to our enormous debt. Just this Congress, he’s voted to keep money flowing to President Obama’s priorities, such as executive amnesty and Planned Parenthood. We can’t change our direction as long as Republicans like John Shimkus continue to surrender to liberals in Congress and the executive branch.
The broken term limits pledge is a special sticking point for those who oppose Shimkus. In 1997 he said he’d go back home to Illinois by 2008, but in 2005 he was suddenly telling voters that his support for term limits was a “mistake.”
It is also a special point that McCarter, a sitting state senator from the 51st District, is making for his run for the seat. The Vandalia resident told Breitbart:
I’m term-limiting myself. I’m not going to be running in 2018. I will have been there eight years, that’s enough. My opponent in this race made a promise to everyone that he was for term limits. And that’s how he got elected. But the difference here is, I’m keeping my promise, I’m term limiting myself. In fact, I agree with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. He said that even people like John Shimkus should limit their term. He said that to two different news organizations.
Illinois’ Republican governor is a big fan of term limits and has made a push for the idea a major part of his campaign. But despite this fact, Gov. Rauner recently announced he is backing the 20-year incumbent for the 15th District.
Still, McCarter says Shimkus has been in D.C. too long.
“So, you know, 20 years is enough,” he said. “The people deserve someone that can defend them and not necessarily just special interests. You know, the founding fathers meant for us to step outside of our profession, use our experience to serve the people, and then get out. I’m willing to get in and fight, but as well I’m willing to get out after ten years.”
Term limits isn’t the only issue McCarter says separates him from the incumbent. He says that Shimkus is too weak on immigration.
On amnesty, I say just say ‘no.’ Enforce the law, secure the border, just say ‘no.’ At some point we have to defend the American worker. And by allowing people to come into the country illegally, we’re not defending American workers. We’re taking away job opportunities for them. Again, the most compassionate thing is to just say no. I am a strong supporter of border security and I think the wall is a great idea.
McCarter, a businessman, also noted there is a stark difference between himself and Rep. Shimkus on the economy.
“Either you have a 20-year career politician, or you have someone like myself with 25 years of experience in business,” he said. “I’m fighting for free market principles, taking my experience as a businessman and going to the legislature and fighting against the largest tax increases in the history of this state.”
“I’m a free trader,” the state senator continued. “We don’t want tariff wars, of course, but we should reward people with less taxation and regulation if they sell abroad and I think that lines up with the proposal that Senator Ted Cruz has put forth. And we should repatriate corporate assets. That’s money that should be at work in our economy, so I think it needs to be put at work at home.”
McCarter also noted that Shimkus has said one thing back home, yet voted another way once safely back in Washington.
“I have stood up to protect life in this state on numerous occasions,” the candidate said. “Unfortunately Shimkus attacked Planned Parenthood in the district and then went to Washington D.C. and voted to fund Planned Parenthood. Many people are upset about this.”
Indeed, McCarter feels that Shimkus has a long list of bad votes including his support of the doomed Ex-Im bank, just one of his many votes allowing Obama to wildly run up the national debt.
“He’s gone up to Washington and voted for the continuing resolution, he voted for the omnibus bill, and I’ll take the stand that I’ll support legal immigration only.”
McCarter continued to criticize Shimkus on his support for the Omnibus spending bill
I would have been against the omnibus spending bill for numerous reasons. For the endorsement of sanctuary cities, for the funding for Syrian refugees to come here even though we have not been assured they can be vetted to protect the American people from terrorism, for the funding of Planned Parenthood, for the endorsement of and the passage of the President’s budget. I mean, this is the President’s budget that we said we don’t want to fund Obamacare, we don’t want to fund these things, and apparently it was more important to our representative to line up and stay in good favor with leadership than to do the right thing and vote against all this.
Breitbart pressed McCarter on his stance on Obama’s plan for allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S.
The right thing to say in regards to Syrian refugees, the most compassionate thing to say is to say ‘no.’ At some point our representatives have to protect the American people. I’m all about helping widows and orphans, that’s part of what my wife and I do — we have an organization that reaches out to orphans and widows over seas and we spend a lot of time instead of playing golf helping these people in need. But we’re not going to cure the world poverty problem by bringing everyone to the United States. So, there’s a real difference and that’s one of the reasons I was endorsed by the American Legal Immigration PAC.
For McCarter, Congressman Shimkus has been too quite in D.C. He feels the incumbent has not fought enough for the folks back in his district.
“The people of this district want somebody to stand up for them and fight for them,” McCarter said in his final pitch.
The people need to see evidence that you have gone and fought. They nee to see evidence that you stood up for what is right, and what’s important to them, and their communities, and their businesses and their families. Voters are not saying you need to guarantee them victory every time but you sure do have to guarantee that you’re willing to stand up and fight. We haven’t seen a lot of fight in the 15th District and I’m committed to doing that for the people.
In the end, though, McCarter may have a tough slog ahead of him. As the weeks tick away to the March 15 Illinois primary, whether he’s been quite in D.C. or not, the incumbent has a commanding lead in the polls.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com