Schimpf not intimidated by Democratic opponent’s established family name in Illinois politics
In the March 15 Illinois Republican primary in Senate District 58, Paul Schimpf won by a landslide over Sharee Langenstein, with Schimpf claiming approximately 70 percent of the votes cast to Langenstein's approximately 30 percent.
“I’m really pleased with the victory,” Schimpf told Southwest Illinois News. “We worked pretty hard and I felt like people really responded to the fact that we were talking about how we’re going to get our financial house in order and then how we’re going to bring good paying jobs back to southern Illinois.”
Schimpf, a Waterloo attorney, said he believed his message resonated more with voters because his campaign worked hard to talk about issues people care about like rescuing the state from the financial mess it has been drowning in and improving Illinois’ business climate. He said state Sen. David Luechtefeld’s endorsement also helped boost his message.
“I was in the military for 24 years and I received a lot of honors during my time in the Navy and Marine Corp, but there’s nothing I’m more proud of than the fact that he (Luechtefeld) endorsed me,” Schimpf said. “Senator Luechtefeld is the model for what our statesmen in Springfield should be.”
Luechtefeld has represented the 58th District since 1995 and serves as assistant minority leader. Last June, he announced his retirement.
Schimpf has highlighted some of the similarities he shares with Luechefeld. In a campaign ad paid for by Citizens for Schimpf, the conservative candidate said he is coming into politics from the outside, as Luechtefeld did, and vowed to represent the people of southern Illinois as Luechefeld has.
Schimpf has also been endorsed by the Illinois Farm Bureau ACTIVATOR committee, ABATE Illinois, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and several local government and business leaders.
For the November election, Schimpf will be facing off against Sheila Simon, whom he has met on many occasions.
“I like her and her husband, Perry, a lot. I think they are good people,” Schimpf said. “The thing that’s going to be interesting about the fall campaign is a lot of times voters will complain that they feel like they don’t have a choice. Well, they’re going to have a choice because although I have tremendous respect for Sheila, she and I are on very different places on the political spectrum and the voters will be able to have a very stark choice.”
Schimpf said voters will be able to make a choice on whether the state should move forward with the reforms he believes are necessary to make Illinois competitive again or whether the state should “move backwards to the failed policies of the Quinn/Simon administration.”
Simon was the lieutenant governor of Illinois from 2011 to 2015. She was the Democratic nominee for Illinois state comptroller in 2014 but lost to Republican incumbent Judy Baar Topinka. Simon’s father is former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, who served as lieutenant governor of Illinois from 1969 to 1973; her mother is former Illinois state Rep. Jeanne Hurley Simon.
Schimpf said although Simon has the advantage of a recognizable name, he believes he’s got a good chance of winning against her.
“(Simon) does have good name identification, but if you look at how the two of us performed in the 2014 election, she was beaten fairly decisively in the 58th Senate District," Schimpf said. "I think she only got 41 percent of the vote, whereas I was going up against Lisa Madigan, another big name. Lisa Madigan was actually going into a 14 election cycle with the most popular politician in the state of Illinois, and I beat Lisa Madigan fairly decisively in the 58th Senate District, so I like my chances. As long as we continue to work hard and get our message out I think we’re going to be fine.”
Schimpf believes in limited government, individual freedom, religious liberty, and respect for life. While serving in Iraq, Schimpf, who later retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Marines, helped prosecute and convict Saddam Hussein of war crimes.
To the voters who showed him such overwhelming support, Schimpf expressed his gratitude.
“I’d like to say thank you for the trust that they have placed in me," Schimpf said. "I’m both honored and humbled by their support and I look forward to continuing to earn their trust through November.”
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