Former Democratic congressional candidate Ben Webb announced Wednesday he’s now planning a run against state Rep. Dan Brady in the 105th House District in 2018.
Webb, who teaches at University High School in Normal, was originally running for the Illinois 13th Congressional District seat against U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville. He quit that race in September.
Webb, of Normal, made the announcement in a crowded banquet room at Medici in Uptown Normal on Wednesday night. Webb said he will be able to raise sufficient money even while working full time.
"I think the important thing is that with this campaign, and switching to this campaign, I found a number of supporters who really want to see a Democrat on the ballot," said Webb. "With the support and the grassroots foundation that we have, I think we're going to be able to do what we need to do.”
Brady has served in the Illinois House for 16 years. He also faces a primary challenge from Republican David Paul Blumenshine, who also officially announced his campaign this week.
Anyone who runs against Brady will go up against a sizable campaign war chest. Brady had $113,528 in cash on hand in his campaign account as of Sept. 30, according to campaign disclosures.
Webb said the country’s political turmoil is the reason to run against Brady now rather than later.
"People want change, people want choice," said Webb. "And I think especially that if there's going to be a year where a challenge to Dan Brady is going to have enough inertia behind it ... I think it's this year because a number of people see what's happening in our own state."
Webb teaches English and theater at University High School. His primary campaign focuses are on education funding reform, health care and issues of inequality.
Webb said the 105th House race is more suited for him. The district includes parts of Bloomington-Normal. It stretches northeast and includes Lexington, Towanda, Hudson, and other communities.
“We're a one-car household. With making trips and maintaining a full-time job, it was the right time for me to step away from that race. Especially with this district, and being closer to home, I hope I can bring some of what I learned from the congressional race to this race.”
Brady has not faced a primary challenge since winning his seat in 2000. That year, he narrowly won a three-way primary by just 47 votes over Republicans Ed Brady and Joseph "Skip" Crawford. Dan Brady's last general election opponent was in 2006, when he defeated Green Party candidate Phil Huckelberry with 80 percent of the vote.
After Blumenshine announced he was considering a run, Brady said he welcomed the challenge.
"It's healthy to have elections and have choices," said Brady, who serves in the House Republican leadership as a deputy leader. "I respect the elective process and look forward to any challenge for me as state representative."
Listen to Webb's full speech below:
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