Smile Politely

Our takeaways from the 2020 election in Champaign County


The race between Betsy Londrigan and Rodney Davis was so close 2018, led by an electric Londrigan campaign and fueled by the fact there was a very legitimate chance to unseat incumbent Davis for the first time in a very long time. 

A victory in 2020’s re-run seemed within reach for Londrigan, especially given that there’s a much higher voter turnout in the general elections than the midterms. Unfortunately for her (and the rest of us here in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District), she didn’t have enough this time around. Davis secured a pretty demanding 30,000 vote victory, even as votes are still being tabulated across the district. While we certainly pledged our support for Londrigan’s campaign, there’s a lot of red in IL-13. This result comes despite Londrigan winning Champaign County by an even larger margin this time (23,000 in 2020 vs. 18,000 in 2018). With the University of Illinois’ enrollment down this semester due to the pandemic, perhaps Londrigan could have picked up more votes in Champaign County as students typically benefit the Democrats. That said, Davis’ hold of the district at-large didn’t bode well for her, and Democrats didn’t do as well in the House races. Davis’ re-election is part of that narrative.

We hoped Londrigan running again would be a positive thing to build off of her performance in 2018, but it appears district Democrats will need to go back to the drawing board on how to oust Davis next time (assuming he continues to seek re-election). An even more moderate Democrat than Londrigan is something to consider in an attempt to chip away at the red in IL-13. Though this might be the opposite of what far-left progressive Democrats to believe is the path forward in this situation — favoring a moderate that can win against a Republican incumbent like Davis (who clearly has a stronghold on very red counties in IL-13) vs. choosing a very progressive Democrat that can just get more votes in the district. After this election, a Biden win proves it can be done as he snatched up many red counties.

It’s clear that the investigations of corruption surrounding Illinois State House Speaker Mike Madigan affected federal races, and the state Dems will need to figure out a new path moving forward to 2022 to distance themselves from his long-cast shadow. 

After the election was called for Democrat Joe Biden, The News-Gazette asked Davis about Trump’s unwillingness to concede. Davis said he was still hopeful that Trump would win and that all the votes should be counted. Like many members of the GOP, he’s not willing to condemn the actions of Trump’s misinformation screed and infantile pouting that will go down in the history books as one of the most shameful actions by an incumbent President of the United States. Davis’ continued support of now-lame-duck-President Trump — even when it is clear that his claims are completely baseless and unfounded — is a true showcase of just how aligned with Trumpian actions he has become. 

Perhaps next time we can make sure that Davis pays for his sycophantic ass-kissing, even if and when the Republican party begins to distance itself from Trump. Who the next Dem candidate should be is hard to say, but the Democratic Party in IL-13 has a lot to mull over before 2022. 


If you’re a Democrat in Champaign County, you’re probably pretty pleased with how things went last week. There were a lot of races that were up for grabs that went to the progressives, with a few close races left to be decided that we don’t think many thought would be as close as they were. In some good news, two Black candidates were elected: Cassandra “CJ” Johnson will be the new Treasurer and DeShawn Williams joins the Champaign County Board. Though the race for coroner was very tight, Chaundra Bishop lost to 16-year incumbent Duane Northrup by only a couple thousand votes. Erika Weaver did not win her race in IL-15, but made a good showing in a very, very red district. IL-15 will soon be eliminated, however, so it remains to be seen what that will mean for this region of Downstate Illinois.

The race that seems to be hit hardest by the blue wave in Champaign County is the Circuit Clerk race between incumbent Katie Blakeman and Democratic challenger Susan McGrath, which is too close to call at this point. Despite a lot of Democrats showing support for Blakeman, it still might not be enough for her to win re-election. For us, this was one of the more interesting races to see come down to the wire, and perhaps points to the question we’ve been asking for years now: What does it mean for local Republicans to keep the “R” next to their names in relatively “non-partisan” elected positions?

Democrats should be satisfied overall, but like the discussion surrounding the House of Representatives at the national level (where Democrats did not fare as well as they’d anticipated), there were many local Republicans elected in a very blue Champaign County. Jason Bohm needed the benefit of the entire Sixth District to win his race (he lost in Champaign County), Duane Northrup will keep his seat as Coroner, Mark Marron has defeated Cynthia Cunningham by a nose, and Brad Passalacqua will likely* hold onto a County Board seat. 


We were thrilled to see the news that Champaign County would support the Champaign County Forest Preserves referendum and the Urbana anti-poverty tax, both being approved by voters last week. This is a showcase that there are community members who are interested in supporting these essential services of our community through their vote and tax dollars. For Champaign County residents, this is about $8 per year for the Forest Preserves, which will help a tremendous amount given the increase of the use of the areas during the pandemic. Cunningham Township will benefit from the funds to keep Urbana moving in the right direction to support those who need it most at a very little cost.

While we were in support of the statewide Graduated Income Tax Amendment, Illinois isn’t ready for it. Two out of three, with an eye on a more progressive federal taxation system when the Biden-Harris administration takes their oath of office in January, isn’t so bad.


We can’t help but bring this up again, but the fact that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris used to live in Champaign County is pretty spectacular and something we should all be proud of, regardless of party affiliation. There’s a C-U ex-pat who will be in the White House, and that’s incredible.

Finally, Tolono didn’t want a dispensary. C’mon!

*race has not been called at time of publishing.

The Editorial Board is Jessica Hammie, Julie McClure, and Patrick Singer.

Top image from New York Times’ interactive map for the House of Representatives election.

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