McClure announces bid in 54th District during local stop
Nov. 5—EFFINGHAM — State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, announced his candidacy Thursday in the new 54th Senate District with a pair of events: one in his hometown, the other in Effingham at the Effingham County Museum.
McClure, a former prosecutor in the Sangamon County State's Attorney's Office, is making public safety a primary part of his campaign. Flanked by Effingham County Sheriff Paul Kuhns, McClure blamed Democrats in the legislature for putting people's lives at risk through a series of bills aimed at reforming criminal justice in the state.
"Can anyone believe what is happening in our state right now?" McClure said. "I knew my experience as a prosecutor would serve me well in the Senate then, but I had no idea that as a freshman legislator, at 4:30 a.m., I would be the main Republican speaker debating a bill that would target, attack and tie the hands of our incredible law enforcement, while emboldening violent criminals who are currently putting law-abiding citizens all over our state in danger.
"The Democrats in the Capitol need to start helping us fight crime, instead of encouraging and excusing it."
The new district contains the eastern-most parts of McClure's current district just outside Springfield in Menard, Sangamon, Macoupin and Montgomery counties, moving eastward into rural parts of the current 48th District in Christian and Macon counties before shifting into the southern part of the current 51st District in Shelby and Moultrie counties, before picking up Effingham County in the current 54th District and squeezing in a small portion of Cumberland County in the current 55th District.
He initially won his seat in the current 50th District in 2018, running unopposed after replacing Sam McCann, who left the legislature to make a gubernatorial run under the Conservative Party line.
While keeping people safe was a primary focus of McClure's opening remarks, he touted his first-term legislative accomplishments, including repairing roads and bridges, expanding job opportunities for veterans, protecting people from online exploitation, hiring more teachers for summer school and getting more control for voters on how their tax dollars are being used.
"I'm excited to be a part of turning our state around and getting us back on track," McClure said. "We have the better solutions to our state's problems, we have a better record of fighting crime and growing our economy and we actually want to support our businesses and restaurants, instead of regulating, restricting and taxing them into oblivion. I'm not giving up on our state or our people. I am proud to be part of the Republican movement to restore public safety, common sense and sanity to our state."
While he announced his candidacy, he received key endorsements from Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, and Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, who came out to the museum in support of a good friend and colleague in the legislature.
"I'm supporting the guy who's leading the charge on criminal justice in the Capitol," Halbrook said. "He's the one who knows the issues and he's the best choice to get the job accomplished."
One of those issues is opioid use, a problem in rural areas like Effingham County. McClure believes sheriffs like Kuhns won't be able to properly do their jobs if the changes to law enforcement, such as the end of cash bail and reforms of pretrial release guidelines, take effect as planned in 2023.
"We've got a great sheriff here who's taking care of things," McClure said. "His hands are going to be tied with the passage of this incredibly terrible criminal law packing come January 2023. I think we need to tell the voters that and let them know that we need to allow our sheriffs and our law enforcement to be able to do their jobs."
GOP legislators like McClure feel a new sense of optimism this week, following off-year victories in Virginia — where Republicans won all three major statewide races in surprising upsets and picked up the lower chamber of the legislature — and New Jersey — where Republicans made gains in the legislature and nearly beat the popular incumbent governor.
"While there are not enough Republicans in the legislature right now, something tells me that we're going to have a few more after this next election," McClure said. "I'm extremely optimistic."
Zach Roth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (217) 347-7151 ext. 132 or (217) 899-4338.