QUINCY — Paul Lange believes someone should always have a choice when they walk into a voting booth.
Lange, 67, is recently retired commodities broker who worked in Quincy but lives near Mendon. He has thrown his hat into the ring to run as the Democratic candidate for Illinois’ 15th Congressional District.
It was a district that wasn’t configured to be favorable for Democrats, who had to cede most of downstate Illinois during the redistricting process. Most of the state south of I-80 now votes Republican.
So Lange is looking for a Rocinante, much less a Sancho Panza. He knows his opponent, Republican incumbent Congresswoman Mary Miller, who defeated Rodney Davis in the June 28 GOP primary, is one hell of a windmill in the bright red 15th District.
“I knew because of this district … I knew it’d be unlikely that another person would step up on the Democratic side,” Lange said in an interview with Muddy River News.
Lange previously was on the ballot. He made a couple of runs during the mid-1990s at venerable Republican State Rep. Art Tenhouse of Liberty. He didn’t fare so well in those, even while Adams County’s Democratic Party actually held many local offices.
Tenhouse was very tight with then local-Democratic kingpin Mike McClain, who wasn’t going to offer any assistance to a Republican who was then a part of the Illinois House of Representative’s leadership team — back when Illinois Republicans actually had clout, controlling both the General Assembly and the Governor’s Mansion under Jim Edgar.
This was also the brief window where McClain’s friend, Michael J. Madigan (you might have read about these guys recently), was NOT the Speaker of the Illinois House.
Lange received less than minimal help from Democrats back when they actually held local offices. And now?
“Well, Bob, you know as well as anybody … the local party’s been whittled down to minority party in this area,” Lange said.
As far as the money goes …
Lange’s campaign responded with a comment regarding the funding disparity and said he has now raised about $10,000.
“To many it may seem like the lack of funding is a negative, but in Paul’s campaign we’re viewing it as an advantage,” said a member of Paul Lange’s campaign team during an interview on Thursday, “Paul Lange is running on the promise he has no corporate interests. His only interest lies in the voice of the people of District 15. That can easily be seen in his funding numbers. He’s receiving $10 and $20 donations from farmers, teachers, factory workers. He’s not receiving hundreds of thousands from corporations. Our budget, right now, isn’t allowing us to make commercials or print thousands of signs. But Paul is doing everything he can to introduce himself to voters of District 15. He’s going door-to-door. He has multiple events lined up all across District 15 each week. Some days he’s driving six plus hours, just to ensure he’s meeting people in all 35 counties and addressing their concerns.”
Lange said he’s prepared to board his trusty steed (the aforementioned Rocinante — if you don’t get the reference, read a damn book) and head over for Governor’s Day next week at the Illinois State Fair.
He’s hoping to at least get the audience to discuss his campaign and maybe garner financial support.
“I know they are looking at other districts,” Lange said, referring to the Democratic Party of Illinois. “But I hope to meet some people, maybe gather enough money to go door to door. I like doing door to door anyway. I did a lot of that in ’94 and ’96. I like meeting people. Not that they always vote for me after talking with me, but I do enjoy getting out and because, let’s face it, it’s 35 counties. Just driving around is going to be expensive.”
Is Lange confident he will return from his trip to Springfield next week with saddlebags full of cash?
“That’s hard to say … I can’t say that,” Lange realistically said.
Lange retired at the end of July. He has decided to spend the first few months of his retirement in an uphill battle to become a member of Congress. So much for fishing or golfing, but he’ll certainly get his steps in going door to door.
In the newly-configured 15th Congressional District, Quincy is the largest city and Adams is the county with the second-most population in the district behind Madison County.
Down the road, perhaps in a time when our politics returns back to normal, there is an opportunity for a candidate from the Quincy area to head to Congress. The numbers haven’t been there for that to happen in quite some time.
Is it Paul Lange’s time? Maybe not, but don’t mistake his effort as some delusion of grandeur, as was the case with Don Quixote.
He might just be paving the way for a future congressman or congresswoman from Adams County.
Windmills be damned.
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