SPRINGFIELD — A Mt. Vernon resident is running for Federal office in the Chicagoland region in this upcoming general election.
Preston Nelson is officially on the ballot in the 8th Congressional District, head-to-head with Democratic incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi, in the U.S. House of Representatives. This created for a unique, special opportunity for the Libertarian Party.
Petitioning struggles due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Despite filing 222 signatures, much fewer signatures than the statutory requirement of 1,011 signatures set as a result of the Libertarian Party of Illinois v. Pritzker ballot access lawsuit, his petitions were not objected to, according to a press release Wednesday.
The release also states the reasoning Nelson did not gather more signatures was in relation to the conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, it notes that the majority of his petitioning time was dedicated to helping other candidates who he considered as better prepared.
“Altogether, I only spent one day gathering signatures for myself,” Nelson states in the release. “I noticed recently a greater affinity of people towards the Libertarian Party, but I never expected what would happen outside the farmers’ market in Schaumburg. People literally waited in a line, just to sign my petition!”
“More and more Americans are looking for solutions outside of the mainstream, and they are looking for younger leaders who are not beholden to the old establishment,” Nelson adds. “I am thrilled, and the Libertarian Party is thrilled to offer citizens a breath of fresh air with the prospect to Make America Constitutional Again.”
Not his first Congressional rodeo, but can Nelson win in 2020?
Nelson is not a stranger in running for Congress. In 2018, he ran against incumbent Congressman Mike Bost in the Republican primary in the 12th Congressional District. As a result, Nelson received roughly 17% of the vote with over 6,000 votes cast for him.
Nelson notes he didn’t like having to run as a Republican but did so because of the ballot access petitioning requirements for an independent or new party candidate. He notes that he would have needed to collect over 15,000 signatures to qualify.
“Nevertheless, I wrote ‘Libertarian’ on literally every piece of real and virtual campaign material,” Nelson states. “Winning 17% does not sound like a lot, but over six thousand voters chose me. I was able to debate my incumbent opponent, and many Republicans really appreciated my candidacy, repeatedly urging me not to give up and to run again.”
He also states his reasoning behind running in the 8th District instead of his home district in the 12th District.
“I opted to relocate to the 8th District because otherwise incumbent Krishnamoorthi would have not even one single challenger,” Nelson adds. “Voters would have no alternative to the Democrat. How can it be a democracy if there is only one person on the ballot?”
“Preston is a passionate young man with a heart for people,” Fox Valley Libertarian Party chair Julie Fox states. “He understands that the Constitution of the United States provided for one of the greatest prosperities in human history. We are confident that he will vote to uphold the Constitution.”
Fox further states, “Fox Valley Libertarians are thankful for this opportunity in the 8th District, and we are thankful for Preston Nelson’s passionate drive.”
Nelson transcript from July 20 press conference
Nelson was among various Libertarian candidates who had filed their petitions on Monday, July 20. Candidates took part in a press conference on the grounds of the Illinois State Capitol.
The following is a transcript of his campaign announcement:
Thank you all! Thanks to all the candidates behind me, thanks to the activists, thanks to the notaries, and thanks especially to the thousands of Illinoisans who signed our petitions to allow us to do what we are doing today. So great! Thanks also to all of you in the media who are here today. This is wonderful! Media is so hard for us as Libertarians. Even today, many members are off, busy with Kanye’s fake campaign, but you all are here, and that is awesome. Thanks so much.
Things happen when Libertarians run for office.
Things happened when I ran two years ago. I did not get the label I wanted. But everyone who saw my campaign, they saw “Libertarian.” They heard “Libertarian,” and people liked the word “Libertarian,” when I ran two years ago. And things did happen, besides people just hearing about me.
I wrote legislation.
When people were shot inside of gun-free zones, I wrote legislation to fix the gun-free zones. I gave it to the incumbent congressman who I challenged, and within two weeks, he introduced his own legislation to do the same. Granted, it was not as good as mine, but it was a beginning and I am very thankful to have been able to play that part.
Another time, I called out the Republican government of the time, and all the Republican and Democratic governments of the past, going back way before I was born, for their failure to care for America’s veterans. In a room full of Republicans, I called out the agent orange scandal, and within two months, there were millions of dollars apportioned to provide care for veterans who are still suffering the effects of agent orange, today.
So yes, when we run, things happen.
Things are happening right now. And even though we do not receive all the limelight that we deserve, we all know that quote: “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen to setting brush fires.” Well, Illinois, here is your tireless minority.
Thank you very much for being here. I am really looking forward to this year. It is looking gold!
The 8th District in general
The 8th District of the U.S. House of Representatives covers through portions of Cook, DuPage and Kane counties. The district includes all of or portions of 19 cities, including East Dundee, Elgin, Schaumburg, and Hoffman Estates.
The district occasionally flops between the parties, the longest tenure set by Republican Phil Crane. Crane served as Congressman starting in 1969 through many redistricting phases until his defeat in 2004. Crane would serve in what became the 8th District from 1993 to 2005.
Democrat Melissa Bean, after failing in her 2002 bid, would serve in the district until 2011. She would lose to Republican Joe Walsh in the 2010 election.
Walsh would serve only one term, losing to Democrat Tammy Duckworth in 2012. Duckworth would hold this seat until her U.S. Senate run in 2016.
Krishnamoorthi has held this seat since then, so could we see our first duly-elected Libertarian in Congress.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.