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Budzinski, Deering to face off for 13th District Congressional seat in November

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Democrat Nikki Budzinski and Republican Regan Deering will battle for Illinois' 13th District Congressional seat in November after winning their primary races on Tuesday.

Longtime Democratic organizer Nikki Budzinski will face Republican Regan Deering in November’s general election battle for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District after winning their primaries Tuesday night.

Budzinski easily defeated opponent David Palmer while Deering faced a closer race, beating out three challengers for the GOP nomination.

The winner will represent an area stretching from the Metro East through Springfield, Decatur and Champaign — a district crafted to elect a Democrat.

But Budzinski, who most recently worked in the Biden and Pritzker administrations, told NPR Illinois she’s not taking any chances.

“Because this is a swing district. I do think this is a district that Democrats cannot take for granted,” she said at her election night party at JP Kelly’s in Springfield. “And I don’t think anybody is. I think we know that it’s going to be a tough cycle so we want to go in and we’re going to flip this seat.”

Budzinski entered the race last summer, before Democrats in the General Assembly had even begun hearings on what Illinois’ new congressional map might look like after the post-Census decennial redistricting process.

At the time, Budzinski immediately began campaigning against U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville), who was ultimately drawn into Illinois’ new 15th Congressional District — a race he lost against Donald Trump-endorsed freshman U.S. Rep. Mary Miller on Tuesday evening.

Budzinski on Tuesday evaluated Davis’ loss as partially a referendum on her would-be nemesis’ “authenticity,” but quickly turned the conversation back to the “working family issues” issues she’s focused her campaign on.

“To me, it’s about lowering the cost of prescription drugs, capping the cost of insulin,” she said. “When I worked for the governor, I worked on issues like broadband. These should not be — and they’re not — Democrat or Republican issues. People are hungry for common ground and stability.”

Deering claimed victory later on Tuesday night after early election returns put her and former federal prosecutor Jesse Reising neck-and-neck after Raising raised nearly 23 more than Deering in campaign funds. However, Reising only spent about 71% of the nearly $458,000 in his war chest while Deering spent the vast majority of the $374,000 she raised — including a $150,000 loan from herself.

Deering has a background as a community activist in her hometown of Decatur and is the granddaughter of the founder of soy processing giant Archer Daniels Midland. She says she plans to hit Budzinski on a tough issue for Democrats in 2022: inflation.

“The inflation costs are really hitting everyday pocketbooks,” she said Tuesday. “That’s going to be a big issue on the ballot in November. If we’re going to win central Illinois, it’s going to be on those pocketbook issues.”

In a June debate hosted by Illinois Public Media, Deering stuck close with the those loyal to former President Trump, dodging a question about whether the 2020 election was free and fair.

Additional reporting by Emily Hays/Illinois Public Media.

Hannah covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois and Illinois Public Radio. She's been dedicated to the statehouse beat since interning at NPR Illinois in 2014, with subsequent stops at outlets including WILL-AM/FM, Law360, The Daily Line and a temporary stint at political blog Capitol Fax before returning to the station in 2020.
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