David Yates Nov. 3, 2014, 1:09pm

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (Legal Newsline) – In a race to close to call, soon voters in Illinois’ 12th Congressional District will decide whether to keep the incumbent or shake things up by sending a man dubbed “Meltdown Mike” to Washington, D.C..

To help voters make up their minds, outside groups have invested heavily in both incumbent U.S. Rep. William Enyart, D- Belleville, and Republican state Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro – two candidates with military backgrounds but two very different demeanors.

The Republican: A colorful lawmaker. Throughout his campaign, Bost’s trademark slogan has been “passionate leadership for Southern Illinois.” Bost’s constituents are well aware of his passion. In fact, Bost’s passionate display in the state legislature caught the attention of the national media.  

In September 2012, a video of a red-faced Bost punching at a flying stack of papers, all the while screaming at the top of his lungs at his fellow legislators, went viral. The highly publicized outburst boosted Bost to national prominence.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee capitalized on the memorable moment this election season by featuring Bost’s tirade in a TV attack ad entitled “Melting Down.”  

The Democrat: A vulnerable candidate. In a Sept. 3 article, Roll Call called the 65-year old Enyart “one of the most vulnerable members of Congress,” speculating the freshman representative must to contend with the drag of unpopular Gov. Pat Quinn on the ticket.







Background: “Oorah!” The 54-year old Illinois native served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1979 to 1982, enlisting right after high school.

Bost went on to become a firefighter and small business owner until, in his own words, he became so tired of government red tape hindering economic growth he decided to do something about it.

In 1994, he successfully ran for the Illinois House of Representatives, where he continues to represent District 115. 








Background: “Atten-hut!” Prior to taking office in 2012, Enyart was adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard. He originally enlisted in the Air Force in 1969, setting him on a military path that culminated with him earning the rank of major general.

At the conclusion of the Vietnam War, Enyart returned home and put his GI Bill to use, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and then attending the Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale.

Shortly after opening his own law practice in Belleville, Enyart joined the Illinois National Guard in 1982.

The son of a Navy firefighter, Enyart not only comes from a military background, but also has a taste of the blue collar work ethic, as he and his father were members of the United Auto Workers while working on the assembly line at Caterpillar.

As a representative, some of the bills Enyart sponsored include:

·      H.R. 3125. To authorize the secretary of the Air Force to make competitive grants to support research and development, education and training;

·      H.R. 1739 – the Veterans Backlog Reduction Act; and

·      H.R. 1436 – the Job Between our Shores Act.

Eyebrow-raiser: Beware of dog and angry armed fathers. On Sept. 26 the Huffington Post ran an article with a headline that read: “Raging GOP Candidate Mike Bost’s Past Includes Dog Killing.”

According to court and police records dug up by the media outlet, in 1986 a neighborhood beagle bit Bost's 4-year-old daughter, inflicting an injury requiring 19 stiches to mend.

When the authorities declined to take action, the former marine got his handgun, drove to the home of the dog owner and shot the animal to death, the report says. A jury eventually acquitted him. 






Eyebrow-raiser: The shadow of Obama. The Republican strategy in 2012 has been to link every Democratic candidate to President Barack Obama – a plan of attack that has a lot of Democrats distancing themselves from the president.

On Oct. 21, the NRCC released an attack ad highlighting Enyart’s support of ObamaCare. Although the 30-second TV spot neglects to mention the Affordable Care Act was passed on March 21, 2010 – two years before Enyart took office, that doesn’t exactly mean Enyart doesn’t support the Affordable Care Act.

While on the campaign trail in 2012, Enyart gained some notoriety defending the national health care law when he said, “Now are there problems with it? Of course there are problems with it. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let’s change the things that are problems and move on."

Since then, Enyart, in the eyes of his opponent at least, has somewhat distanced himself from the issue. At the start of his campaign, the congressman’s government website listed his views on health care as “under construction.” The site now states “despite a rocky start, the Affordable Care Act has made tangible improvements to our health care system.”

Enyart’s campaign website declines to mention the Affordable Care Act. 

Endorsements: Mike Bost, good for business. Business-based organizations have flocked to endorse the small business owner, organizations such as the National Federation of Independent Business and the US Chamber of Commerce, for example. Legal Newsline is owned by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

And the Illinois Chamber of Commerce not only endorsed Bost, but also went so far as to shell out $65,000 to support him, campaign finance records show.  

Endorsements: The usual. On his campaign website, Enyart says he’s “proudly received endorsements from” the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Farm Bureau, United Mine Workers of America, Seniors Vote, Vets Vote, Alliance for Retired Americans and the Illinois Education Association.



Funding: NRCC to the rescue! Bost continued his strong fundraising efforts in the third quarter, raising more than $345,000 – a total amount supplied mostly by individual donations, as PACs only contributed $88,599, campaign finance reports show.

In all, Bost has nearly raised $1 million so far this election cycle and, as of Sept. 30, had less than $83,000 remaining in his war chest.

However, despite depleted coffers, Bost isn’t doing all the heavy lifting on his own, as outside groups, such as the National Republican Congressional Committee, believe Bost can win and have invested millions in the race, according to opensecrets.org and the NRCC website. 

Funding: DCCC to the rescue! Enyart was forced to dip into his war chest this election, spending $1.4 million of his $1.6 million raised to fend off his Republican challenger.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign is refusing to give up the seat without a fight, investing $2.1 million in the race. The House Majority PAC has also chipped in a half a million dollars, according to opensecrets.org.

Attorneys for the Simmons Law Firm, an Alton-based firm specializing in asbestos litigation, have been Enyart’s top supporters this election cycle, donating $25,000 to the congressman.

In all, Enyart has received more than $192,000 from lawyers and law firms from 2013-2014. 

Issues: No more feeding at the trough. As he attempted to do in the Illinois General Assembly, Bost is promising, if elected, to rein in government spending in Washington. Like most Republican candidates, Bost is also campaigning against ObamaCare. 

Issues: Addressing ObamaCare. Whether he’s distancing himself from the polarizing issue, Enyart has promised, in bipartisan fashion, to address performance and affordability issues with ACA when they arise. The congressman has also promised to continue his support of veterans. 


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