Report From The Heartland: Should Republicans Be Worried?

It's a fry-an-egg-on-the-pavement afternoon in tiny Hardin, Ill., but a few of the faithful are already waiting in the swelter for John M. Shimkus as the Republican congressman parks his red Chevy pickup. Like dozens of his fellow representatives, Shimkus is using his Fourth of July recess to press the flesh and gauge the mood of voters. At a meeting in the courthouse, Shimkus trumpets GOP successes in forging deals to cut taxes and balance the federal budget, but folks in this rural Illinois district don't seem all that interested: They want to know about local issues like a new ferry across the nearby Illinois River and a federal road project that threatens property rights.

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