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Teacher wants to take on Kinzinger

Benjamin Baer
Benjamin Baer

Saying on Facebook he understands the challenges of being the middle-class bread winner, a Coal City social studies teacher filed for the Democratic nomination in the 16th Congressional District, a seat held by U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

Benjamin Baer, 40, will join Dani Brzozowski of La Salle in the March 17 Democratic primary. The general election is Nov. 3.

“I am doing this because I am having a midlife crisis,” Baer said in an October Facebook post asking for petitions. “In many ways, so, too, is our nation.”

“ ... As a social studies teacher in a public school for over 18 years, I understand the challenges of being a middle class bread winner. I stand for stronger schools, better health care, and relieving the tax burden from the middle class.”

The district spreads across La Salle, DeKalb, Ford, Stark, Will, Boone, Bureau, Grundy, Iroquois, Lee, Livingston, Ogle, Putnam and Winnebago counties. Kinzinger, a Channahon Republican, has served four terms in the 16th District, one in the 11th.

With 59% of the vote, Kinzinger defeated Democratic challenger Sara Dady of Rockford in the 2018 race. Dady has told Shaw Media that she does not plan to run in 2020.

Answering frequently asked questions, Baer responded on Facebook as to whether he “could actually win.”

“This is certainly an uphill battle,” he said. “This Congressional district has also been won by the incumbent by a heavy margin in the past. I also do not have a war chest of a million dollars, which is what would most likely be necessary to effectively campaign for such an office.”

Brzozowski recently noted that Politico, which covers national politics, listed the 16th Congressional District as “likely Republican” in 2020 after having referred to it as “strong Republican” at the end of the 2018 election cycle.

In the 2018 race, four candidates vied for the Democratic nomination – nonprofit director Amy Murri Briel, immigration attorney Dady, health care management consultant Neill Mohammad, and farmer and nonprofit director Beth Vercolio-Osmund – with Dady emerging as the winner.

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