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Politically Speaking: U.S. Rep. Davis talks about state of the union — and flood recovery

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis for the first time.

Davis represents Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, which takes in portions of the Metro East and central Illinois. Before he was elected to office in 2012, the Taylorville Republican served as a staffer for U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.

While Davis had run for several offices before 2012, his path to Congress was a bit unusual. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, announced his retirement after he had won the GOP primary in the 13th District. Republican committee members selected Davis to take Johnson’s place to run in a district that leaned toward the Democrats. He then defeated Democrat David Gill by an extremely narrow margin.

Davis’ re-election bid in 2014 was supposed to be competitive, especially after Democrats recruited Judge Ann Callis to run against him. But that race fell off the national radar relatively quickly, and Davis prevailed by a landslide.

Since he was elected to Congress, Davis has served on the House Agriculture Committee and the House Transportation Committee.

Here’s what Davis had to say during the podcast:

  • Davis was heartened by the president’s bid to end cancer. He noted his wife is a cancer survivor and his mother died of lung cancer. “The president mentioned a moonshot to try and eradicated cancer,” he said. “That was something I was so excited to have him stand up and say that he was going to put Vice President Biden in charge of that mission.”
  • Still, Davis said he wasn't impressed by the rest of Obama’s speech. He said the Democratic chief executive was “in full lecture mode. ... There were a lot of issues he could have taken a more bipartisan tone on, but he chose not to,” he said.
  • Davis is worried that FEMA may not provide needed relief for towns in central and southern Illinois. He said the agency should change the formula for determining disaster declarations so that localized impact is given more weight.
  • Like other officials who represent the Metro East in Congress, Davis is bullish about building a new facility for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency at Scott Air Force Base. That proposal is facing pushback from Missouri elected leaders that want to build the structure in north St. Louis.
  • Davis predicts that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, is best positioned to win Illinois’ presidential primary. Davis, though, hasn’t endorsed anybody from the crowded GOP presidential field.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Rodney Davis on Twitter: @RodneyDavis

Music: “Sassafras” by The Devil Wears Prada  

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.