Photo by Nathan Grimm
Mike Babcock speaks to the crowd at Josephine’s Tea Room on Aug. 17 during a fundraiser for Babcock’s campaign to run for Illinois State Representative.
GODFREY — State representative hopeful Mike Babcock on Wednesday appealed to his neighbors — the mother, the soldier, the teacher, the farmer — to help allow him to fix a state he said is at a “crossroad.”
Babcock, speaking to a group of supporters at a fundraising event at Josephine’s Tea Room and Gift Shops, said state Rep. Dan Beiser (D-Alton) has been implicit in helping Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives Michael Madigan dig a deficit that has left the state without a balanced budget. After meeting with his family and friends earlier this year to weigh the pros and cons of running for office, Babcock, 54, said the financial condition of the state made it clear that this was something he must do.
“The people that I serve inspired me to stand up and say enough is enough,” Babcock said. “Illinois has diverted from the path of prosperity and promise, and has instead become a state riddled with budget deficits, high taxes and job shortages. We have been misled by politicians like Michael Madigan and my opponent Dan Beiser into believing that we can trust them with our hard-earned dollars. Instead, they have misused our money and they have abused our trust.”
Babcock announced his candidacy for representative of the 111th District in May after serving as Wood River Township supervisor for the past seven years. Babcock, who lives in Bethalto with his wife, Carol, previously served on the Bethalto Police Pension Board.
“I tell people at their doorsteps every day, I’ve balanced seven budgets, I’ve ran seven surpluses, and I’ve not raised taxes on people in the last six years,” Babcock said to applause. “That’s got to be successful. If we laid the same template on the state of Illinois, we would not be in this financial crisis that we’re in today. And we are in a financial crisis.”
Godfrey Mayor Mike McCormick and U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, a Republican representing the state’s 15th Congressional District, were also on hand to show their support for Babcock. Shimkus spoke on behalf of his friend of 21 years, imploring voters to give Gov. Bruce Rauner the Republican help he needs to get the state back on track.
“In this cycle, we have to bring the cavalry to help the governor,” Shimkus said. “This is the battle of our time. Either we want to accept the status quo, or we’re going to bring additional state reps and state senators to the fight in Springfield to help our governor turn this state around. And you being here tonight says we’re in that fight, and we’re going to get Mike Babcock to be our representative to help the governor turn this state around.”
Babcock is an East Alton native and a 1980 graduate of Roxana High School. He received an electrical degree from Lewis and Clark Community College, which he used to get a job with McDonnell Douglas, which later became Boeing. He went back to school to get his bachelor’s degree in marketing from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, graduating in 1990. From there, he started in sales before opening his own insurance firm, Babcock and Associates. He ran previously against state Sen. Bill Haine in 2012.
The race is one of the higher-profile races in the state, with the Illinois House Republican Organization having contributed more than $146,000 to Babcock’s campaign in recent weeks. Beiser’s campaign, meanwhile, had $527,379.89 available at the end of the second quarter reporting period June 30.
The candidates themselves have also traded shots publicly since May. At his announcement in Alton’s Lincoln Douglas Square, Babcock said Beiser’s greatest achievement since taking office in 2004 is voting for Madigan five times to serve as Speaker of the House, “and we know how that’s working in the state of Illinois. Not very well.”
In June, Beiser responded to negative advertising against him, calling Babcock a “political henchman” of Rauner and saying Babcock was recruited to “stab his own neighbors in their backs.”
Despite the rhetoric, the decision to run against Beiser wasn’t personal, Babcock said, but rather for a larger purpose.
“I like Dan as a person, and you all who know him like him as a person. He is a very, very moral and ethical guy,” Babcock said Wednesday. “But it’s not about that. It’s about changing the state of Illinois.”
Aside from fixing the budget, Babcock also touched on high property taxes and term limits for politicians as things he would like to change if elected.
“You have the power to change the political landscape of our home,” Babcock told supporters. “I fondly remember an Illinois where children played safely in the streets, an Illinois where hard work was rewarded with secure jobs and ambition was met with success. I fear that everything that made our home great is being taken away by political machines. We’re actually watching as the American dream is slipping away.”