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Coal City social studies teacher makes bid for Congress

Benjamin Baer will contest Dani Brzozowski in Democratic primary

Benjamin Baer, of Coal City
Benjamin Baer, of Coal City

Saying on Facebook he understands the challenges of being the middle-class bread winner, a Coal City social studies teacher filed for the Democratic nomination in the 16th Congressional District, which is a seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

Benjamin Baer, 40, will join Dani Brzozowski, of La Salle, in the Democratic primary scheduled for March 17. The general election is set for Nov. 3.

"I am doing this because I am having a midlife crisis," Baer said in an October Facebook post asking for petitions. "In many ways, so, too, is our nation."

" ... As a social studies teacher in a public school for over 18 years, I understand the challenges of being a middle class bread winner. I stand for stronger schools, better health care, and relieving the tax burden from the middle class."

The district spreads across La Salle, DeKalb, Ford, Stark, Will, Boone, Bureau, Grundy, Iroquois, Lee, Livingston, Ogle, Putnam and Winnebago counties, including Ottawa and Streator. Kinzinger has served four terms in the 16th District, one in the 11th.

With 59% of the vote, Kinzinger defeated Democratic challenger Sara Dady, of Rockford, in the 2018 race. Dady has told The Times she is not planning on running in the 2020 race.

Answering frequently asked questions he posted on Facebook, Baer responded to whether he "could actually win."

"This is certainly an uphill battle," he said. "This Congressional district has also been won by the incumbent by a heavy margin in the past. I also do not have a war chest of a million dollars, which is what would most likely be necessary to effectively campaign for such an office."

Brzozowski recently noted Politico, which covers national politics, listed the 16th Congressional District as "likely Republican" in 2020 after having referred to it as "strong Republican" at the end of the 2018 election cycle.

In the 2018 race, four candidates vied for the Democratic nomination — nonprofit director Amy Murri Briel, immigration attorney Dady, health care management consultant Neill Mohammad, and farmer and nonprofit director Beth Vercolio-Osmund — with Dady emerging as the winner.

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