Colleen Callahan, a former local radio and TV reporter, wants to be the Democratic candidate for the 18th Congressional seat, she confirmed Thursday.
Colleen Callahan, a former agriculture reporter for local radio and television stations, is asking the Democratic Party to be its nominee this fall for the 18th Congressional District.
She said numerous people have asked her to run and after discussing it with family and friends, she is now actively seeking the support of the party’s 20 county chairmen. She approached them at a meeting last week and says she’s in the early stages of testing the waters with Democratic voters.
"I’m excited about this prospect," Callahan, 56, said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. "I have been overwhelmed by the support."
This would be her first foray into politics, though she said her professional experience with business and agriculture will make her a worthy candidate.
The Democratic chairmen in the 20 counties comprising the 18th District have 60 days after the Feb. 5 primary election to choose their candidate.
A native of Milford, Callahan worked in broadcasting for more than 30 years, mostly covering and commenting on agribusiness issues at WMBD-AM 1470. In 2003, she started her own communications firm and currently heads Colleen Callahan Communications.
She declined to detail Thursday what her campaign platform or stance on issues would be if selected, stating at this time her campaign is simply "to convince the 20 Democratic chairmen for their vote."
If nominated, Callahan will face one of the three Republicans seeking their party’s nomination for the congressional seat — Heartland Partnership CEO Jim McConoughey, former Peoria city Councilman John Morris and state Rep. Aaron Schock.
Democrats in the 18th District have been without a candidate after Dick Versace, a former Bradley University and NBA basketball coach, announced in early December he was dropping out of the race for "unforeseen personal circumstances."
Peoria County Circuit Judge Richard Grawey, who initially considered running to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, said Thursday although he’s not actively campaigning for the spot he thinks "I’m one of the people the chairmen are considering."
The vacancy left many to wonder if the lack of a clear candidate would hamper Democrats in what will likely be an already difficult race. The 18th District hasn’t had a Democratic congressman since 1917.
"The Democrats didn’t get their first candidate, they didn’t get their second so maybe the third time is the charm," said Lance Trover, spokesman for the Illinois Republican Party.
Trover declined to comment on how Callahan’s announcement may change the dynamics of the Republican Party’s campaign but added the 18th District is "an overwhelmingly Republican district which I’m positive will remain in Republican hands in 2008."
Billy Halstead, chairman for the Peoria County Democratic Party, said the voters were in no danger of seeing the Democratic slot empty on election night.
"There was never a doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t have a candidate," he said. "That seat would not go uncontested."
Frank Radosevich II can be reached at (309) 686-3142 or email@example.com.