The surprise fifth Democrat looking to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis says she won’t take money from corporations and will fight for universal health care, tuition-free college, and publicly funded elections.
Angel Sides of Springfield said her No. 1 concern is the role of for-profit media in shaping public debate over important issues. Sides supports universal health care but said media owned by corporations do not accurately report on the issue. (Sides said she does political commentary on Access 4, a public access TV channel in Springfield.)
“Media is one of those issues that affects all the issues,” said Sides. “When people don’t have the right information and vote against their own best interest, I’d have no problem with that if they weren’t voting against my best interest too.”
Sides said she works as a substitute teacher for Springfield Public Schools. She said she’s been a political activist for more than 10 years, including volunteer campaign work for Democratic candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Dick Durbin, Ann Callis, and David Gill.
Gill, a Bloomington physician, is one of four other Democratic candidates running in the March 20 primary in the 13th Congressional District. The sprawling 13th District stretches from Bloomington-Normal all the way south to Edwardsville, including parts or all of 14 counties.
Davis, a Taylorville Republican, has held the seat since 2013. He’s seen as potentially vulnerable in a gerrymandered district drawn by Democrats to give Democrats a shot. The other Democrats in the race are Jonathan Ebel of Urbana, Erik Jones of Edwardsville, and Betsy Dirksen Londrigan of Springfield.
Sides was a late entry into the Democratic primary, only appearing on the political radar at the candidate filing deadline in early December. This is her first run at elected office.
Sides said she is troubled by the sheer size of the U.S. government’s defense spending, which she said funds a state of “perpetual war” overseas. Spending less on the military would free up more money for tuition-free college education, Sides said. Student loan debt is crippling American students, she said.
“It’s our money, and it should be used on the American people to update our infrastructure, our education, to house homeless people, to convert to alternative energy,” Sides said.
Whichever Democrat wins the March primary will face a seasoned fundraiser in Davis.
Davis raised and spent $1.4 million in 2012, $3.4 million in 2014, and $2.4 million in 2016, according to Federal Election Commission data. In 2016, around 70 percent of Davis’ contributions came from “other committee contributions,” mostly political action committees. Those top PAC contributors included Deere & Company PAC, McDonald’s Corp. PAC, the Caterpillar Employee PAC, the State Farm Federal PAC, and several others. Davis also raised more than $641,000 from individual contributors, including many top donors from within the district.
Sides criticized Davis for accepting campaign contributions from business PACs. Democratic candidates have welcomed campaign contributions from business PACs too, but Sides said she won’t. If she wins the nomination, Sides said she’ll hope for funding from progressive groups like Our Revolution, Brand New Congress, Justice Democrats.
“We need to expose Rodney Davis,” Sides said. “What we really need are people who will not sell out to corporate America at any cost.”
You can also listen to GLT's full interview with Sides:
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