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Politically Speaking: Illinois Congressman Bost on his nationally watched re-election bid

Illinois Congressman Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Illinois Congressman Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro

Illinois Congressman Mike Bost joined St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies on Politically Speaking to talk about his bid for a third term.

The Murphysboro Republican has represented Illinois’ 12th District since 2015. He’s running against Democrat Brendan Kelly, who is St. Clair County’s state’s attorney. The Bost-Kelly race is expected to be one of the most competitive congressional races in the nation.

Bost is a Marine Corps veteran who was elected to various local offices in the 1980s and 1990s. He was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1994 — and eventually became a member of GOP leadership there. With the exception of a two-year period in the 1990s, Bost served in the minority every year he was in the Illinois House.

Before running for Congress, Bost made national news when he made a passionate floor speech regarding a pension bill. Bost literally tried to punch a stack of papers and yelled, “LET MY PEOPLE GO!” While Democratic groups used the address in negative ads against Bost,they likely backfired— as it showed him fighting against Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and then-Gov. Pat Quinn. Both officials were unpopular in downstate Illinois.

Bost eventually captured the12th District seat in 2014,defeating incumbent Congressman Bill Enyart, D-Belleville. He easily won re-election in 2016 over Democrat C.J. Baricevic by nearly 15 percentage points.

While 12th District residents voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, Kelly is widely seen as a solid candidate. And the 12th District had Democratic representation for decades before Bost knocked off Enyart. That’s why most national prognosticators say the Bost-Kelly contest is a tossup.

Here’s what Bost had to say during the show:

  • After serving in the Illinois House minority for nearly 20 years, he is glad to be in a position to pass meaningful legislation in Congress. He’s especially heartened by his work with the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs — where he’s the subcommittee chairman for disability assistance and memorial affairs.
  • He’s a supporter of a tax cut plan that Trump signed into law late last year. Bost contends it’s helped stimulate the national economy.
  • Bost said his constituents still generally support Trump, though he added that some have concerns about his social media output. “I wouldn’t Tweet like that,” he said. “And the amount of constituents that come up to me and say ‘can you talk to him and tell him not to do that?’ And I say ‘I don’t know if you know this or not, but he doesn’t call me at 3 o’clock in the morning before he tweets.’”
  • One of the things that may help Bost is the fact that Green Party candidate Randall Auxier is also on the ballot. The Green Party typically takes away votes from Democratic candidates. In 2014, Green Party nominee Paula Bradshaw got about 5.5 percent of the vote.

Kelly previously appeared on Politically Speaking. You can listen to that episodeby clicking here.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter:@jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter:@jmannies

Follow Mike Bost on Twitter:@BostForCongress

Music: “Ocean Avenue” by Yellowcard

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Since entering the world of professional journalism in 2006, Jason Rosenbaum dove head first into the world of politics, policy and even rock and roll music. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Rosenbaum spent more than four years in the Missouri State Capitol writing for the Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri Lawyers Media and the St. Louis Beacon.
Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.