NPR from Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Politics and Government
WGLT's reporting on the November 2020 election cycle.

Democrats Challenging Rodney Davis Face Off At Forum

Stefanie and Betsy
Jim Meadows
From left, 13th District Democratic candidates Stefanie Smith and Betsy Dirksen Londrigan await the beginning of their candidate's forum at the Champaign City Council chamber Monday night.

A candidate’s forum in Champaign Monday night featured the two Democrats competing for the chance to challenge 13th Congressional District Rep. Rodney Davis in November.

Betsy Dirksen Londrigan lost to Davis by a less than one percent in 2018. The Springfield resident said she’s continuing her campaign on issues like healthcare and what she terms “common sense” gun legislation.

“So I am back in this race,” said Londrigan in her opening statement. “Because we have a mission. We have to finish what we started. We have a representative who continues to vote against us.”

Stefanie Smith has won the backing of Democratic Socialist groups in the 13th District. But the first-time candidate from Urbana accused the local Democratic organization in Champaign County of trying to censor her for pointing out what she called “bipartisan complicity” that supported Trump administration policies.

“They stripped everyone’s website links because of my anti-imperialist stance,” said Smith in her opening statement. “It’s an act of suppression. It’s an abuse of power that undermines trust.”

Smith and Londrigan agreed on some issues, like ending the Electoral College and supporting greater regulation of big tech companies like Facebook and Google. But they disagreed on the best way to provide healthcare coverage.

Smith said access to a single-payer healthcare system is a human right. She described losing her mother to cancer because she couldn’t afford to see a doctor until it was too late.

Within six weeks, she was dead. Anything less than single payer is eugenics," she said.

A single-payer or “Medicare For All” system would replace private health insurance. But Londrigan says that’s not what voters want.

“Look, I have a problem forcing people to give up insurance that they want to keep," she said.

Londrigan supports the public option, allowing the government to offer an all-ages Medicare-like program as an alternative to private insurance.

Monday’s candidate’s forum was the second of two such events, sponsored by the local League of Women Voters and NAACP chapters and the News-Gazette.

Related Content