Running unopposed is good news for any candidate, but for Timothy Wolfe ’78, it was especially welcome. That’s because the first-time congressional candidate is also an accountant, and a contested March primary would have overlapped with tax season – his busiest time of year.

“I was able to put off starting campaigning until after April 17,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe, a Republican, next faces Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky in November’s general election in the 9th Congressional District in Chicago’s northern suburbs. Wolfe has never run for office before and has never been in politics of any kind, “other than voting every two years or arguing with your friends what the right policy is,” as he puts it.

Wolfe got his second bachelor’s degree, in accounting, at Illinois State. He took classes part-time at night while he worked during the day as an accountant for the city of East Peoria. His wife, Kyle (McKay) ’75, also attended Illinois State and studied math.

The political newcomer first caught the bug in summer 2011, when the debt-ceiling talks in Congress dominated headlines. He never served in the military, “so I thought this would be a great opportunity to serve my country.”

“It really hit home that people in Washington aren’t serious enough about making the changes that are needed to get this economy moving and start to reduce our deficit and pay down our debt,” Wolfe said.

For Wolfe, raising money and asking others for their time is the hardest part about his bid for Congress. But when you run for office, he found, people take you more seriously and show you respect.

“That is both fun and exhilarating. Of course, you must be careful to not consider yourself as more knowledgeable or wise than you really are. You come to realize that as a potential newsmaker, you must be aware of the impact of your words,” Wolfe said. “They will be magnified for better as well as worse so you cannot afford to be boastful about your newfound ‘power.’”

Wolfe joins U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger ’00, a Republican incumbent who is running in the 16th Congressional District in November, as Redbirds running for Congress in 2012.

If you know of other Illinois State alumni running for Congress in other states, let us know. Email STATEside editor Ryan Denham at


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