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Businessman could challenge Manzullo

Morris businessman Bronco Bojovic has formed an exploratory committee to gauge a possible run in Illinois’ redrawn 16th Congressional District against longtime incumbent Rep. Don Manzullo.

Should the committee find enough support for a run, Bojovic would be the first official opponent for Manzullo, a Republican from Egan. The district’s boundaries will be different than they are now, though.

Springfield lawmakers must redraw state and congressional boundaries every 10 years after the U.S. Census. Democrats drew the map, as they control the Illinois Senate and House, as well as the governor’s mansion. Republicans are challenging the map in court.

Under the new map, DeKalb County will remain split between the 14th and 16th districts, and the boundary line between the 14th and 16th districts mainly would follow township lines. Sycamore Township would be cut almost in half, with the southern half in the 14th District and the rest in the 16th District. All of Cortland, Pierce, Squaw Grove, Sandwich and Somonauk townships would be in the 14th District. The other 13 townships in the county would be in the 16th District.

Rich Carter, spokesman for Manzullo, said the 18-year incumbent would seek re-election in the 16th District whether the court accepted the Democrat-drawn map or the alternative map submitted by Republicans. Manzullo could change course should either map be drastically changed by the court, Carter said.

While he does not know when he will make an official decision, Bojovic said he has received positive public feedback from his door-to-door visits with DeKalb County residents. His experiences working in a union, in administrative positions, being laid off and now owning a small business help him relate to the middle-class American, he said.

“There is a sense of elitism with our current Congress and they need to get back to their roots,” Bojovic said. “We just need everyday citizens and that’s what I am.”

One of the main issues that motivated him to seek a potential run for Congress was the gridlock and partisanship he believes is caused by corporately backed campaigns. He said representatives have lost sight of who they work for and are unable to come together because they are more concerned about the special interests that helped them win an election.

Should he run, Bojovic said he hopes he can be an example for grassroots campaigns and relying on the people’s vote.

“It appears Congress isn’t doing the will of the people anymore,” he said. “When you look at where the money is coming from, it’s not coming from Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.”

A second issue that spurred Bojovic’s interest was the state of international trade. He said the North American Free Trade Agreement has played a large role in the unemployment rate in the U.S. and helped cause a large trade deficit. Reforming international trade practices would be vital in bringing back manufacturing jobs to the country, he said.

The area of government Bojovic is looking to change is the same sector Manzullo helps regulate. Manzullo serves as chairman for the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, where trade policies with China, Japan, Korea and other eastern countries are often discussed. He even has a meeting in Washington this week to hear a report entitled, “China’s Monopoly on Rare Earths: Implications for U.S. Foreign and Security Policy.”

Carter said Manzullo will also release his American jobs agenda this week.

“There is a lot going on in trying to strengthen manufacturing in America,” Carter said.

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