Meet the Illinoisan campaigning to unseat an 11-term Republican
Anthony March, a congressional candidate from Illinois’ 15th District, has launched a campaign to unseat long-time Congressman John Shimkus. Mr. March was kind enough to offer answers to some questions I had about his campaign goals, and the result was the interview you see below. Enjoy!
Ben Chapman: What was the defining moment that motivated you to challenge Congressman John Shimkus, a 10 term House member?
Anthony March: The healthcare debate in the spring is what gave me the motivation to run for office. Both of my daughters get their insurance through the exchanges and I know people that have benefited through the ACA. And with how Republicans in both Houses were framing their bills, millions of Americans were going to be hurt for at best unclear policy goals, and at worst a policy goal of cutting taxes for the wealthy. This really drove home to me that if I wanted to stop things like this happening, I needed to do more so I decided to run for office.
BC: What are your priorities? Which of your goals truly sets your campaign apart?
Anthony March: My main priorities are reducing poverty and income inequality. As I have been campaigning and doing a lot more reading of policy papers, I have really seen how other ideas I had all come together in poverty and income inequality. I want to improve K-12 education, make sure Americans have affordable insurance, and make sure we have the environment to compete for jobs. All of these things are some of the main components in improving income mobility and reducing poverty.
BC: Voters from both parties are becoming fed up with the current plan for the Electoral College because of its propensity for creating skewed campaigns and awkward results. What reforms would you champion in order to improve our Presidential elections?
Anthony March: That is a really hard thing to change. Ideally, there would be a Constitutional Amendment to change this. But I find it really hard to believe that enough states will sign on to that. Other than that, there is not much that Congress can do. It would be up to the states and there I see promising things. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact which would have states assign their electors to the winner of the popular vote. It wouldn’t take effect until more than 50% of electoral votes join. Right now I think they are around 30% so they still have a ways to go. But I think getting enough states to pass a law joining that compact it more likely than an amendment.
BC: Increasingly, citizens have become frustrated with the undemocratic practice of gerrymandering, which purposely corrupts our elections. As a Representative, how will you reform congressional elections to make them more democratic?
Anthony March: I think the best way to accomplish this at the federal level is to strengthen voting rights laws. This can make it easier for courts to strike down gerrymandered districts. Other than that, we need states to do more. I support moving to non-partisan commissions to draw the maps. But that is something that states have to set up.
Anthony March: First and should be the easiest idea is to make sure all of our elected officials condemn and don’t support white supremacists. The second and much harder idea is to educate Americans on these ideas. Too often, Americans have not confronted our past and have tried to whitewash our wrongs. I think this allows a lot of these ideas the room to grow. So through education we can give Americans the ideas and skills needed to confront these ideas. But this isn’t going to be easy. If we want people to reject these ideas, we need to give them the tools needed to challenge these ideas on their own.
BC: Famously, your Republican opponent has cited The Bible as sufficient evidence to counter climate change research. He has used Christianity to justify lax regulations on environmentally destructive industries. As a Congressman, what steps will you take to ensure that our nation’s precious ecosystems are protected and preserved for generations to come?
Anthony March: First, I find that to be kind of bad theology. We are charged with being good stewards of Creation, and we can’t be good stewards if we are destroying the environment. Second, to answer your question, we need to work with other countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have made some progress but not anywhere near enough. We also need to make sure other environmental protections are being enforced. I have been very concerned with the administration’s efforts to undermine environmental protection and the secrecy with which they have been trying to. This ranges from changing which waterways are covered by the Clean Water Act, trying to undo the Clean Power Plan, or letting companies dump waste into streams. I don’t see how anyone can think these are bad ideas and it disturbed me how much Rep. Shimkus publicized these actions as good.
BC: Illinois is well-known for its extensive use of nuclear energy, however, the topic can be controversial, notably among environmentalists. How will you address the topic of nuclear energy to ensure our Illinois’ energy production is safe, clean, and reliable?
Anthony March: I think nuclear power is a greenhouse gas free source while we work for a future with cleaner power. I don’t support closing plants that are already running until we have clean alternatives built to replace them. New plants I feel wouldn’t be cost effective right now with the decreasing costs of renewables and studies that show that base load power produced by coal and nuclear plants isn’t as necessary for grid stability as many thought.
BC: Possibly the most debated issue currently in politics is healthcare. Your opponent came under fire for his support of the unpopular AHCA bill, which would harm many of his constituents — especially the poor and the elderly. What types of policies would you advocate for in order to ensure your constituents get the healthcare they deserve?
Anthony March: The first thing we need to do is stabilize what we have now. We need to make sure the CSR payments are being made and set up a reinsurance program so that we can start to make premiums more affordable. After that, we need to start working for universal coverage. I think there are a couple of ways we could work towards this that need to be studied. There is single payer or a strong public option. I think both of them could bring down costs and expand coverage. I would like to see both of them studied more so we can see their effects on healthcare and the costs of them.
BC: Our nation’s obesity epidemic is harming our society’s health, productivity, and economy, costing us hundreds of billions of dollars each year. If elected, what will you do to improve the nutritional health of our citizens?
Anthony March: First, I think this is something that will be helped at least a little if we can reduce rates of poverty and increase access to healthcare. Other than that, I am interested in seeing the results from cities that have raised taxes on unhealthy food. If that seems like it is having good results, I would like to look into that, especially if that money is used to subsidize healthy alternatives to make them cheaper. There are a lot of people that are priced out from purchasing healthy food. And then we need to continue the efforts that have started with labeling and education on eating healthy and exercising.
Anthony March: On making the tax system more progressive, I don’t think the wealthy are paying their fair share and we need to adjust this. I would also be for expanding EITC and I have seen some interesting papers on wage subsidies so that we can not only encourage Americans to work but help them get out of poverty too.
BC: Congressman Shimkus is a notoriously difficult candidate to beat, and the Illinois 15th District is large and difficult to become known in. What makes you believe you are the person who can overcome these obstacles?
Anthony March: I think the ideas I am running on will be attractive to both Democrats and Republicans in this district. Everyone wants better education, better pay and jobs, and better healthcare. I think if the message gets out well, voters from both sides can support the ideas I am advocating. It is going to be tough but I think it can be done.
Anthony March: They can check out my website, my Facebook page, or donate here. I want to hear what the people of this district want. I also need their support if we want to win and replace Rep. Shimkus. Thank you!
BC: Thank you very much, Mr. March, for the fantastic interview. I wish you the best of luck in your campaign! If any readers would like to keep an eye on the goings-on of the Illinois 15th District, you can follow “Unseat John Shimkus” on Facebook. Additionally, you can share and recommend this interview to allow more people to see it. Thank you for reading!
–Ben Chapman, July 2017
My Interview With IL 15 Congressional Candidate Anthony March was originally published in Blue Midterms 2018 on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.