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Democrat To Announce Run In Rep. Sommer's District

A Bloomington woman is planning to run for the Illinois House next year, setting up state Rep. Keith Sommer’s first contested general election in a decade.

In an interview Wednesday, Jill Blair of Bloomington confirmed her plans to run for the 88th House District, currently held by Sommer. That district includes portions of south Bloomington, McLean, Danvers, and Stanford, stretching west all the way past Morton.

“Springfield is broken, and it really has been for a long time," Blair said. "We’ve seen the partisan bickering over several decades. Political gamesmanship. Meanwhile, hard-working Illinoisans are suffering. We look at our schools, our universities, our hospitals, our farmers and our laborers, our seniors and those with disabilities whose services have been dwindling. Illinois deserves better, and I’m ready to bring fresh ideas.”

Blair plans to make a formal campaign announcement Sept. 7 at the McLean County Museum of History in downtown Bloomington.

Blair, an Illinois State University alum and former administrator at Heartland Community College, said her key issues will include more certainty for K-12 and higher education. Blair also supports a graduated, or progressive, income tax, a key part of moving toward a more “fair and humane approach to budgeting.”

This is Blair’s first run at elected office.

“What’s going on at both the national and state level really has been a wake-up call for me over the last couple of years. The election of 2016 was really the icing on the cake. We’re seeing people being driven further apart in partisanship and (thinking) about their team instead of the citizens of the state, the citizens of the U.S. We can’t sit around anywhere waiting for somebody else to take action.”

Sommer, of Morton, has served in the Illinois General Assembly since 1999. His last contested general election was in 2008 against Democrat Tom Shrier. Sommer won with 70.8 percent of the vote.

“I think unopposed elections are bad for democracy. We deserve choices,” Blair said.

Blair would first need to win the March primary before facing Sommer in November, should the incumbent seek re-election. Chris Howick of Bloomington has also announced plans to run as a Libertarian candidate. Howick is vice chair of the McLean County Libertarian Party.

A message left with Sommer was not immediately returned Wednesday.

You can also listen to GLT's full interview with Blair:

GLT's full interview with Democrat Jill Blair.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.