A Peoria Democrat says the people of the 17th Congressional District need another option in the March 2020 primary besides incumbent Rep. Cheri Bustos.
Spanky Edwards is president of the Peoria Chapter of the ACLU and the chairman of the Youth Works Committee of the Illinois NAACP. He recently filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission.
"My job is to challenge the status quo. Because I feel like the status quo still leaves children hungry. The status quo still leaves black men shot in streets by police officers," he said. "It still leaves poverty for black people. It still leaves the immigration issue with our Hispanic brothers and sisters."
Edwards backs a slate of proposals to create more equity, such as Medicare for All, expanded workforce development training, and raising salaries for police, firefighters, and teachers into the six-figure range.
Bustos is the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and sits on the House Appropriations Committee.
Edwards said he thinks he can win despite a facing a major fundraising disadvantage, citing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's defeat of veteran New York Rep. Joe Crowley in 2018.
"I am just a social justice, poor people's option. She can continue to go and represent, very wealthy people, wealthy Democrats. That's fine. But we need an option. And I am that option," he said.
He's currently circulating petitions throughout the district, which includes parts of Peoria, Rockford, and the Quad Cities. It also includes Galesburg and wide swaths of rural communities in northwestern Illinois.
Bustos' campaign hasn't yet responded to a request for comment.
Several Republicans are also currently vying for the chance to run for the seat in November 2020.