PEORIA — Donald Rients hopes the second time is the charm in seeking election to Congress.
The Benson man first ran in the 2015 special election Republican primary that saw now-U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood nominated and then elected to Congress.
Rients, a State Farm technical worker, filed petitions last week to challenge LaHood, R-Peoria, and bills himself as a fiscal and social conservative.
He's running again partly because he doesn't believe any candidate should get a free pass and be unchallenged for election, but also to highlight many of the issues that were in his campaign platform previously.
"It seems to me that Democrats and Republicans are kind of working behind the scenes to keep their jobs rather than get the country going in the right direction," he says, citing particular disappointment with the slow pace of enacting GOP legislation despite the party's control of all levers of government.
"I see a Republican House and a Republican Senate and a president that will sign some of those Republican bills that are strong bills. If he's going to sign those, why aren't we passing them?" Rients asks.
Among those topics is abortion, where Rients wonders why more action has not been taken: "You've got the votes. They all say they're pro-life (in the GOP majority)."
He's also leery of potential deficit increases and debt ceiling hikes in Republican tax legislation, and believes the government needs to be more effective at policing work visa violations for both agricultural workers and high-tech workers.
Generally speaking Rients favors limited government and reduced public spending, though he makes exceptions for national security and for infrastructure, expressing frustration that the latter also hasn't been tackled in the past year.
Candidates can file petitions through 5 p.m. Monday to get onto the ballot for the March 20, 2018, primary.
Democrats are also expected to have a primary. Social studies teacher and former Morton High School soccer coach Brian Deters and Eureka College history professor Junius Rodriguez — LaHood's opponent in 2016 — have both filed nominating petitions.
Chris Kaergard covers politics and government. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 686-3255. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.