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Two Democrats enter race for 12th Congressional District

CARBONDALE (WSIL) — Election season gets underway in southern Illinois with a unified message from Democrats running for the 12th Congressional District.

"Lets retire Mike Bost," Ray Lenzi told a crowd of supporters multiple times during his introductory campaign rally Thursday in Carbondale.

Lenzi, of Makanda, worked at SIU for more than two decades, retiring as an associate chancellor and CEO of the SIU Research Park in 2006.

"Right now, we have a government that only cared about giving a big tax break to the super rich," Lenzi said. "This isn’t a government that represents the people or the people’s needs."

Joel Funk of Mascoutah has already filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission and he has plans for a rally in his hometown later this month.

"I’m not your average Democrat. I grew up on a farm. I come from a rural community, and then I spent my entire adult life either in a southern military college or in the military and the special operations community," Funk said. "None of those are real big liberal bastions."

Funk said Bost hasn’t represented the district well.

"Our congressman, Mike Bost, is weak," Funk said. "He’s apathetic and he does not have the appropriate leadership that we need within this district. Our district is suffering from a lack of upward mobility and prosperity."

Funk said he served 13 years in the Army and moved back home earlier this year. He criticized Bost for failing to act on ending numerous conflicts overseas, including Afghanistan, where Funk said he was deployed to five separate times.

"I was a senior in high school when 9/11 happened. We’ve been at war, operating under the same authorizations for 18 years," Funk said. "We are at war and conflict with seven different countries. If he (Bost) could list off those seven countries, I would be surprised."

Lenzi said conservative policies have failed in many areas, including health care.  

"It should cover everybody and it should be paid for by everybody and it should be more fair and balanced and not so complicated," Lenzi said.

And Funk said more liberal economic policies, like a higher minimum wage, would ultimately help people across the district.

"Certain policies which may seem extreme now are really just a means for us to catch up to where we were 50 years ago," Funk said.

Both men will be asking for votes in the March primary.

Bost is the only other candidate who filed with the FEC for the 2020 election, but he has not formally announced his reelection campaign.

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