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Fall battle for 13th Congressional District seat to be a hot one

The lineup for what’s expected to be one of the most hotly contested congressional races in the country in the fall is set.

Incumbent Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville fended off a challenge from a former Miss America in Tuesday’s Republican primary, setting the stage for a battle with a former judge who handily won the Democratic nomination in the Downstate 13th Congressional District.

With 72 percent of precincts reporting, Davis had 57 percent of the vote, compared to 38 percent for Urbana lawyer Erika Harold, a former Miss America, and 5 percent for Michael Firsching, a veterinarian from Moro.

Davis in 2012 barely won the seat once held by six-term Republican Rep. Tim Johnson, and Democrats again are expected to give him a stiff challenge in November.

Ann Callis, a former chief judge in the 3rd circuit covering Madison and Bond counties, handily won the 13th district Democratic primary, holding 58 percent of the vote with 72 percent of precincts reporting.

Within minutes of Callis’ victory, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel issued a news release congratulating her and saying Davis’ record in Congress “will put him on the wrong side of voters in November.”

In the 11th Congressional District southwest of Chicago, three-term state Rep. Darlene Senger was considered the frontrunner to win the party’s nomination to try to unseat Democratic Rep. Bill Foster in the fall.

But with 66 percent of precincts reporting, Grundy County board member Chris Balkema of Channahon had 36 percent of the vote compared to 34 percent for Senger. Businessman Bert Miller of Hinsdale and private investigator Ian Bayne of Aurora had 26 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

There are 18 congressional districts in Illinois, 12 of which are now controlled by Democrats. Only half of the districts had contested primaries.

Among Democratic congressmen, only 11-term Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez of Chicago faced a primary challenge in his 4th district covering Chicago and several near west suburbs. With 88 percent of precincts reporting, he was cruising to victory with 74 percent of the vote over challengers Alexandra Eidenberg and Jorge Zavala.