Sangamon County Republicans are endorsing Springfield resident Dr. Tom Tarter for U.S. Senate, and Tarter says that he will stress immigration, public safety and the economy leading up to the March 17 primary.
“I was going around talking about health care because that’s what I know, and there is no Republican senatorial candidate who has more experience and who is more authoritative,” he told a Monday night meeting of party committeepersons at Knights of Columbus 4175.
But he said he had a polling firm called 1892 contact 600 likely GOP primary voters.
“Of Republicans likely to vote in the primary, (President Donald) Trump polls at 85 percent, so that’s a good thing,” Tarter said. “We also polled on messaging, and my messaging has changed based on those poll results. The No. 1. issue is going to be immigration; No. 2 is public safety; and No. 3 is the economy.
In an interview after his endorsement, Tarter said that based on a recent national poll, health care will be the top general election issue. He said the redirection of his message during the primary makes political sense to get the nomination.
Rosemarie Long, chair of the county GOP, invited six people to present their credentials to the party’s executive committee, and three did so: Tarter; former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran of Libertyville; and Dr. Robert Marshall, a perennial candidate from Burr Ridge.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, of Springfield, is seeking a new six-year term next year, and Republicans are vying to take him on.
“We would love to have it back in Republican hands, and we feel Dr. Tarter’s our best chance,” Long said.
According to Tarter’s prepared remarks to the party’s executive committee, he told the group he would help Trump on immigration reform, including supporting legislation to “secure our borders by building a wall, and giving the Border Patrol the resources they need for technology and more officers.” He also said he would “close the loopholes on asylum claims and illegal border crossings, and hire more Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to rid our communities of illegal immigrants who have criminal records, and … transform our legal immigration system from the family-based system of chain migration to a merit-based system.
Tarter also said tax cuts passed by the GOP Congress and approved by Trump have helped Illinois, and he wants them to continue through 2025.
On health care, he said, “I oppose the Democrat socialized medicine proposals, because they would result in extreme rationing of care, long wait times, and a loss of providers. There are sensible market reforms that can reduce the cost of health care.”
He also said he thinks Democratic moves toward impeaching Trump would backfire. He labeled those efforts “a gift to the Republican Party.”
Tarter, a urologic oncologist who is retiring at the end of December, said he is proud to have the backing of the local party — his first endorsement in his first try for public office.
“We’ve supported the Sangamon County Republican Party for many years,” he said of himself and his wife, Julie, who is office manager for the organization. “So it’s special to have their endorsement.”
The party also endorsed Trump for re-election, and several Republicans running in the primary for state, county and judicial offices.