Peloquin says he’s running for Congress
Phil Kadner firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-6787 October 3, 2011 9:24PM
Updated: January 23, 2012 4:08AM
Blue Island Mayor Donald Peloquin said Monday he will definitely run for the U.S. Congress in 2012.
“I’ve made up my mind, and I’m going to run in the 1st Congressional District,” Peloquin said.
That seat is held by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush. To run against him in November, Peloquin would first have to win the GOP primary election in March.
I first wrote in July that Peloquin, 60, was contemplating a bid for Congress.
“Due to the recent congressional remap, that congressional district now includes a lot of suburban territory, and I think it is winnable for a Republican,” Peloquin said. “The district now goes all the way into Will County and includes Elwood, Frankfort, New Lenox, Mokena, a lot of traditionally Republican territory.”
But the district is 52 percent black and was gerrymandered by the Legislature to retain a majority Democratic voter base.
“I think I can convince a lot of those traditionally Democratic voters to consider a Republican,” Peloquin said.
He said he would do that by focusing on the economy, job creation and local issues. However, he will not be spending a lot of money on the campaign or buying TV commercial time.
“I don’t have the money for that sort of thing and don’t expect to raise that kind of money,” Peloquin said. “And 2012 is going to be a presidential election year, so there are going to be a lot of commercials out there for a large number of candidates and I think it would be hard to reach voters that way.
“My campaign is going to be grass roots,” he said. “I’m going to use the Internet, Facebook, Twitter and build organizations in every community to get out the vote.
“I think people are tired of congressmen raising money all the time. As soon as they win an election, the first thing they do is start raising money to run in the next election.
“I’m running to represent the people of the district, not to be a congressman. That’s the thing I’ve got to remember and the message I’m going to keep sending out.
“We need to build a third airport near Peotone, we need to focus on developing the largest inland port in the nation (CenterPoint Intermodal Center near Joliet), we need to get the interchange built connecting I-57 to I-294.
“If we can get that airport built and have it working in conjunction with CenterPoint we will create an enormous economic boom in the south suburbs.
“We have the labor force, the housing market, the railroad system, the highway system and everything else to make it work. We need support from the federal government to make sure it all happens.”
Peloquin said he has been building support among Republican committeemen and suburban mayors but refused to release any names on the record.
“I don’t want to scare them off before the campaign really begins,” he said. “But I’ve received a lot of support and believe I will get their endorsements.”
Peloquin said he would remain mayor of Blue Island during the congressional campaign.
“My mayoral term doesn’t expire until the spring of 2013, and the congressional election is in November 2012,” he said. “So I can and will remain mayor unless I win the congressional election. I would resign if I won the congressional seat, but that’s a long way off at this point.”
I kept asking Peloquin about Rush’s 18-year tenure as a congressman, but the mayor evaded any direct criticism of the former Black Panther Party leader who’s considered one of the most liberal members of Congress.
Rush’s district has long included portions of the south suburbs, but constituents from those areas have complained to me that his office doesn’t return their phone calls and mayors have said he doesn’t seem to make their issues a priority.
I have often referred people from Rush’s district to the offices of U.S. Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) or Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2nd) if they needed help.
But the reality is that Rush remains an extremely popular figure in Chicago, where he defeated a primary opponent named Barack Obama in 2000.
Peloquin’s greatest accomplishment may have been gathering a political coalition to create MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island after St. Francis Hospital announced it was closing.
In 2004, Peloquin made headlines by calling on 55 Southland municipalities to secede from Cook County to form Lincoln County, but that plan went nowhere. He also has been an advocate of building a controversial plasma arc incinerator in Blue Island.
“I’m running for Congress because I think it’s time people had someone in Washington who actually represents them,” Peloquin said.