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Targeted Republicans In Tricky Spot On Questions About Trump

Mike Bost
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois
U.S. Rep. Mike Bost meets with constituents in East St. Louis in this photo from June 2018.

Democrats are trying to flip several Congressional seats in Illinois this fall. That’s put some Republicans in a tricky spot when it comes to questions about President Donald Trump.

Republican Congressman Rodney Davis represents much of central Illinois. The district was drawn to be competitive, but after a close first race in 2012, he’s won easily since.

Davis publicly criticized Trump after the "Access Hollywood” video came out in October 2016. At the time, he said he couldn’t vote for any of the candidates.

But when reporters recently asked how Davis how he actually ended up voting, he repeatedly declined to say.

“I will never tell anybody who I voted for — I don’t tell anybody, and I would ask anybody here: You tell me who you voted for in every race,” Davis said.

Davis’ Democratic opponent is Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. Through a spokeswoman, she says she did vote for Hillary Clinton.

Rodney Davis, Matt Roland
Credit Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois
NPR Illinois
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, left, discussed steel tariffs and other trade issues with Matt Roland, president of Roland Machinery, in Springfield, Illinois.

Meanwhile, in U.S. Rep. Mike Bost's southern Illinois district, President Trump’s trade war has both winners and losers — steelworkers and farmers respectively. But it’s not the president’s policies that worry Bost. He says he’s more troubled by the way Trump comes across on social media and cable news.

“In this district right now his numbers are pretty high,” Bost says. “The bad thing is you see only the conflicts, and you don’t see the positive things that are happening.”

The district stretches from St. Louis to the Kentucky border, and Trump won it in 2016. But that Congressional seat had been held by Democrats until Bost, a former state representative, won it in 2014.

He will face Democrat Brendan Kelly, the St. Clair County state’s attorney.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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