News emerged this evening that central Illinois representative Tim Johnson would not seek re-election in the Fall after winning his primary race just a few weeks ago. Representative Johnson's record has been one of principle and independence. He hasn't always toed the GOP line and perhaps always hasn't been as conservative as some would like, but he has voted his principles and above all, has always been responsive to his constituents.
Representative Johnson was my representative until I moved out of his district almost five years ago. One thing that I've always appreciated about him is that he stood for what is often an ignored minority, the minority that represents 20% of the American population--rural America. He fought for rural communities and agriculture. While that meant he stood for the less-than-conservative ethanol subsidies, he still stood for the people themselves, not just their vote, and was a very critical voice in the questioning Jon Corzine when he "lost" millions of dollars of farmers' money. Representative Johnson is known for being very connected to his constituents. He always is on the phone with constituents, and often times he would go to the local mall to walk, which served as a great way to stay in touch as well. In fact, one of his unofficial "advisers" and walking buddies was a nice older gentleman whom I attended church with, a retired agronomy professor who was head of the local senior Republican group.
One thing that I particularly appreciate about Representative Johnson is that he took the time to come and speak to Community Health students when I was in grad school. My Seminar class included developing a lecture series where we invited individuals to come and speak about health care practice and policy. Our class had invited then Senator Obama and our local Congressman, Tim Johnson, and various other individuals. Obama never responded, but Johnson did. He came and spoke at one of those lectures and talked about health care spending, tort reform, and things like personal savings accounts. It was one of the few exposures that my classmates and I had to conservative health policy, much to the dismay of our liberal professors.
There are a few other things in particular that I will praise Representative Johnson on. The STOCK Act was signed into law today by President Obama with much of the impetus coming from the great research done by Peter Schweizer.This law bans insider trading by Congress, and although it doesn't go as far as it should, it is a start. Prior to the revelations of Schweizer's book, legislation banning insider trading by Congress was tossed around, but of course, most legislators never took it seriously nor supported it. Representative Johnson, though, was one of the co-sponsors when such legislation was first considered in 2006. Johnson isn't known for going along to get along. He was of the few, if not the only, Illinois Republican (who chose to endorse) who did not endorse Mitt Romney for President. He endorsed Ron Paul in part for his independence, a trait they both share. They both also share a propensity to either purchase ill fitting suits or not seek the services of a tailor. I appreciate his willingness to continue to buck the Establishment in Illinois--one that does't get bucked often enough.
I certainly hope the GOP can find someone solid to run in his place, but whatever the case may be I appreciate his service to the people of central Illinois.