Roger Cook, who served a single term as Belleville’s mayor in the 1990s, plans to announce formally on Saturday he will run as a Republican for the 12th U.S. Congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville.
Cook, 54, told the News-Democrat on Wednesday that he plans to run on a platform aimed at curbing government regulation of business and reducing the federal deficit through cost-cutting and a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
"I’m for reducing government size," Cook said. "I wish we could get as much government back to the local level as we could."
Cook acknowledged he faces long odds in trying to unseat an entrenched and well-funded member of Congress like Costello, who has held the seat for 23 years.
But Cook noted that in 1993, when he ran for mayor in Belleville, he also faced long odds in unseating a 14-year incumbent in Rich Brauer but prevailed.
"The same thing could be true" if he faces Costello, Cook said. "If you believe in what we’re going to do, you could be part of a historical change in 2012."
Costello could not be reached for comment.
But before he can face Costello, Cook will have to run against at least two other declared candidates in the March 2012 Republican primary: Teri Newman, of Highland and Theresa Kormos, of O’Fallon.
Newman won the GOP primary for the 12th Congressional seat in 2010, narrowly defeating Kormos, but lost in the general election to Costello by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.
Neither could be reached Wednesday for comment.
Cook, who served as Belleville mayor from 1993-97, works as a business development officer for NBA Inc., a bank consulting and accounting firm in Belleville.
Cook made it clear he strongly opposes all the major legislation passed by President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders of Congress — especially the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare,” which took effect in March 2010.
Cook derided the health-care reform law as a regulatory nightmare, particularly for small businesses.
What especially upsets Cook about the law is a provision in it, according to Cook, that allows federal dollars to pay for abortions. Such a provision was supported by pro-life Democrats, Cook charged.
"There is definitely funding there for abortion," he said.
But the widely respected website FactCheck.org states that the health-care reform act hews to existing federal laws that deny federal tax dollars for abortions.
Some anti-abortion groups, however, still contend, as Cook does, that the law provides taxpayer funding for abortion services.
He is the fourth Republican declared or consider running (Newman, Kormos, Plummer, and now Cook) to try to unseat IL-12 incumbent Jerry Costello (D) in November 2012.