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Chuck Erickson touts experience as he launches bid for Illinois 88th House District seat

Chuck Erickson gave a campaign kickoff speech at the Bittner farm east of Bloomington.
Charlie Schlenker
Chuck Erickson gave a campaign kickoff speech Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023 at the Bittner farm east of Bloomington.

Chuck Erickson, a McLean County Board member and former county GOP chair, formally launched his campaign for the Illinois 88th House District with multiple stops Tuesday in the central Illinois district that includes parts of Bloomington-Normal.

At the Bittner family farm east of Bloomington, Erickson said he is the first generation in his family to get a college degree and schools would be a focus for him if he is elected in November 2024.

"Education is the ticket to success in our society. I will advocate for reading, writing, and arithmetic that puts parents and their child's education first," said Erickson.

Erickson also said he would also pay attention to the needs of agricultural constituents.

"I think one issue important to farmers is the estate tax. They would like to see the exemption moved up. It's at $4 million in Illinois and my recollection is it's $12 million federally," he said.

Illinois’ 88th House District includes parts of south and southeast Bloomington-Normal, plus smaller communities such as Downs, LeRoy, and Farmer City. The Republican-heavy district is currently represented by Rep. Dan Caulkins of Decatur, who is not seeking re-election.

“I have a proven track record of voting and supporting the very same values shared by the hard-working men and women of the 88th district, and I look forward to taking those values and my voting record to Springfield on their behalf,” Erickson said in a statement over the weekend.

The GOP primary is March 19. Erickson will face Regan Deering, who announced her campaign in June. It’s unclear if other Republican candidates will emerge. Candidates can begin circulating petitions Sept. 5 to get on the primary ballot.

Both Erickson and Deering describe themselves as conservatives and Second Amendment supporters. Both are current local officeholders: Deering serves on the Mt. Zion school board, and Erickson represents Bloomington’s east side on the McLean County Board (District 10).

Deering said she’s been endorsed by Caulkins and by another former McLean County GOP chair, Connie Beard. Deering said last week that she’s raised $77,000 from 141 donors in her first two months.

Farm tractor with political sign attached
Charlie Schlenker

Erickson has won the endorsements of former state Rep. Dan Brady, who opted against a run in the 88th House District himself; former GOP candidate for governor and state Sen. Bill Brady; McLean County Sheriff Matt Lane; and former McLean County Sheriff Jon Sandage.

“(Erickson’s) support for family values, agricultural, law enforcement, education and business issues is the heart of this district,” Dan Brady said in a statement.

Erickson, a Gibson City native, is a lawyer in Bloomington-Normal and an Illinois State University alum. He was chair of the McLean County GOP from 2014-18, but opted against another term.

If he wins the Republican Primary against Deering and then the general election in 2024, Erickson would likely be in the minority party in the state house.

On Tuesday, Erickson said he will "work with Democrats when he can and confront them when I must," adding he has a strong record on the county board of working with members of the opposition party.

Success in GOP primary elections often hinges on which candidates can best position themselves as a true conservative. Erickson noted he is a life member of the State Rifle Association and will fight for the 2nd amendment.

Experience in office is not always a plus in a primary.

Deering, has criticized the "political class" in Illinois. Erickson is promoting his 12 years of experience on the county board. He's chaired several committees in that time, including the land use and justice committees. He's also the ranking member of the finance committee.

"I have an unmatched proven track record of effective conservative leadership and public service," said Erickson. "My conservative voice on the county board has been instrumental in keeping taxes low and budgets balanced, while at the same time maintaining the quality-of-life McLean County residents expect."

He said his experience doesn't make him an establishment Republican — it makes him an effective one.

Nearly half of the voters in the 88th District live in McLean County. About 30% live in Macon County. Livingston, Dewitt, and Piatt Counties have smaller shares of voters in the district.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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