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I wanted to take this opportunity to explain to the readers of InterBusiness Issues my decision to run for re-election to Congress instead of governor in 2006. This magazine has been a wonderful forum for me to talk about a variety of issues during my term in Congress, and many of you who read this column have been tremendous supporters of mine over the years. I thank you for your support, and I hope you agree with my decision.

I love the job of representing the 18th District in the United States Congress. It’s a great honor, and I look forward to running for re-election. I fully plan to run an aggressive, grassroots campaign in an effort to win another term in Congress and continue my service to the people of central and western Illinois.

But allow me to explain my decision.

In January, several of my close supporters asked me to take a look at running for governor. They were disheartened with the direction of state government under the current administration. They disapproved of this governor’s lack of interest in Springfield and downstate Illinois, and they were disturbed by his inattention to the business of managing state government. They knew this great state deserves much better than Rod Blagojevich. So I listened to my supporters and explored a run for governor.

During these months, I’ve enjoyed the process as Kathy and I have traveled throughout the state. I spoke at many Lincoln Day dinners, walked in plenty of parades, and discussed issues at candidate forums. I met and talked with thousands of great people—but, more importantly, I listened. And what I heard were voices of discontent and disbelief about the character of our state’s leadership and a desperate desire for change. Make no mistake; these were Republicans and Democrats who’ve had enough of this administration and want to replace the current governor.

Thanks to the generosity of many people, we raised significant money—and did it all under the more restrictive federal rules. All told, we have about $1.3 million that could be used for a run for governor. But increasingly, the people of central and western Illinois have said they’d like me to stay in Washington. They want me to continue serving as their Congressman and continue working to make a difference for the country and the State of Illinois.

Since I was first elected in 1994, we’ve made a difference in many issues facing our country. We’ve reformed welfare, fought terrorism head-on, established a prescription drug program, reduced the tax burden on Americans, formulated good farm programs, and, most recently, enacted a national energy policy. This is just a small fraction of the great work the Republican Congress has done in the past 11 years.

Locally, we’ve worked on many projects throughout the 18th District. Our work on transportation, agriculture, conservation, and economic development issues has been at the heart of what my office has spearheaded for more than a decade. My staff is top-notch, and I sincerely thank them for their service to the people of Illinois. We’ve put our constituents first, and we take great pride in the service we provide to the people of this district.

In the end, it was these constituents who led me to this decision, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve listened to what the people in the 18th District have said, and they’ve told me to stay where I am currently. I believe the people of the 18th District. It’s an honor for any public official to be asked to stay in office, and it’s truly an honor and privilege for me. I love my job, and I love my district. My family and I have made this decision after thoughtful discussion, and we’re comfortable this is the right decision for us and the 18th District.

We have a number of very strong candidates in the Republican Party who are bright, capable, and offer a willingness to seriously govern this state. We need a real leader in the governor’s mansion—and in the governor’s office. I believe with the right Republican candidate, we’ll beat this governor. We deserve a better governor, and I believe we’ll get one.

But it won’t be me. My place is in the 18th District and in Washington. I look forward to helping our Republican candidate for governor in bringing back competence, integrity, and serious leadership to Illinois State government.

Before I go, allow me to publicly thank a few people: my close supporters who encouraged me to run, my constituents who allowed me to take a serious look at this race, those who provided financial support, members of my extended political family throughout the district and the state, and especially my wife, Kathy, and our children. Thank you very, very much.

I’ve loved every minute of my time serving in Congress. It’s an honor I never take for granted, and I again ask the voters of the 18th District to allow me to continue representing them in the United States Congress. IBI

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