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Shimkus wins handily to retain 15th Congressional seat

  • John Shimkus

    John Shimkus

  • Kevin Gaither

    Kevin Gaither

By John D. Homan
Managing editor
updated: 11/7/2018 1:05 AM

COLLINSVILLE -- With a convincing 72-plus percent of the vote and 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Congressman John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, scored a solid victory over Charleston Democrat Kevin Gaither in the 15th District.

Shimkus, who was first elected to Congress in 1996, held a relatively low-key celebration in his hometown Tuesday evening.

"This is the longest job I have ever had," said Shimkus, a former Army lieutenant colonel, teacher, and Madison County treasurer. "I love public policy and dealing with difficult issues like immigration and nuclear waste disposal."

Shimkus said that the country has seen "historic economic growth and record employment" under President Donald Trump.

"With a change in the House (Democrats are projected to now be the majority), the question is how do we continue to go forward to keep that economic growth?"

The 60-year-old Shimkus, who serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and is a key leader to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act, said he will continue to work across the aisle with Democrats.

"I also pledge to work with our new governor," Shimkus said of Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker. "I wish him well."

Shimkus has also served on subcommittees on Communications and Technology, Energy and Power, Environment and Economy and Health.

Gaither said he was "fine" with the way the election turned out.

"I just wanted people to know there were other choices," he said. "And tonight, people made a choice. It's just stunning to me that (Shimkus) keeps getting re-elected, but I know this is a very conservative district. I just hope the congressman will do a better job of listening to his constituents the next two years."

Gaither said he did what he could with what little resources he had, but it was no match for Shimkus.

"I learned a lot about this district," he said. "And I was inspired by so many of the people I met."