Goforth is fighting two tough battles

By Gus Bode

Deakhead:With less than a week until the election, Goforth hopes to become state senator, but not as much as he wants his wife to be well again.

Editor’s note:This is the second story in a two-party series examining the candidates for state senator of the 58th district.

Election time is never an easy period for any politician, but it has been particularly difficult for Charles Wayne Goforth.

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Goforth, a republican-turned-democrat who is running for state senator in the 58th district, and his wife, Betty, describe this campaign as the “longest” one yet.

Betty underwent an emergency triple bypass surgery just as her husband’s campaign was heating up. Doctors found she had 96 percent blockage to her heart, and she was hospitalized at Good Samaritan in Mt. Vernon for about 10 days.

“All the sudden, being elected for an offices isn’t the most important thing in your life,” Goforth said.

After 48 years of marriage, the couple still agrees their marriage is “simply wonderful.”

Betty, who is now back at their home in Tamaroa recovering, said even though Goforth couldn’t always be there for her, he made sure someone else could.

As soon as she was admitted to the hospital, Goforth called his sister, Margaret, for help.

Margaret and her husband Carl came all the way from Arizona to sit with Betty while Goforth was campaigning. They stayed by her side until she was released from the hospital and doing fine on her own at home.

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“They helped him and they helped me,” Betty said. “Wayne was needed everywhere and could only be with me in the mornings and the evenings, so they took care of me as if I was a baby about to break.”

She said they just left, but she misses them already.

Betty is now able to drive in town, which she says helps because it gives Wayne more time to campaign instead of going grocery shopping.

Still, she isn’t the same politician’s wife that she used to be.

On Sunday Betty went to a political fundraiser with Goforth, her first political appearance after her illness, but he said she was “tired-out” by the time they got home.

“She used to campaign with me, but now her health just isn’t good enough,” Goforth said. “She would go one place and I would go to another and we would cover more ground that way, but right now that just isn’t possible.”

Even without Betty campaigning, the couple thinks Goforth has the experience to win – again.

Goforth, who went into the Navy after high school, served on a submarine during the Korean War. Then he worked as a state trooper for 26 years before serving as a representative from 1985 until he was unseated in 1990.

He said he ran for election in the 1980s because he felt he could make a needed change in Illinois politics.

Goforth said he didn’t approve of the person running for representative under the Republican ticket, so he decided to offer Southern Illinois voters another option.

“I ran against him in the primary, and the rest is history,” Goforth said.

Goforth history shows that he knows a lot about winning – and losing.

Even after losing his seat in the Illinois House of Representatives to democrat Terry Deering in 1990, he is willing to give politics another try.

And not too different from the last time he ran for office, Goforth is expected to have a tough race.

Still, one thing is very different about this election:Goforth is running as a democrat.

“The Republican Party is no longer for the working man and I am, so I changed over,” he said.

Goforth said he was compelled to jump back into politics for the same reason he got into it in the first place.

“It’s the same reason now. I am running against a man who voted 92 percent of the time with leadership,” Goforth said. “But a representative should vote with the people in the district.”

He is trying to unseat incumbent David Luechtefeld, a Republican who has held the seat since 1995.

Goforth and his wife know this will not be an easy race to win, but they say they are doing their best.

While Betty plays the part of his secretary at home, Goforth travels from city to city campaigning.

His district stretches 110 miles, from Cahokia’s northern-most point to Jonesboro in the south.

Goforth, who usually leaves the house at about 7 a.m. and returns home at about 9 p.m., puts about 1,000 miles a week on his car.

“It is not cheap,” he said. “The gas alone is quite expensive.”

A campaign is also quite expensive, but Goforth is running his on only about $40,000, when past campaigns for the same seat have cost more than a million dollars.

“It is kind of hard to run without money, but I believe a candidate should be elected by the people and not bought with money,” he said.

Betty said they both will be glad when the election is over.

“I think we are doing fine so far – I sure hope so,” she said. “I would hate to work so hard and then lose the election.”

But she said that nothing can get Goforth down, “except when I am sick.”

Although Betty says she hopes her husband wins, she is prepared either way.

“The main thing that bothers me is the people,” she said. “I want them to have the best, and naturally I think Wayne is the best. I really do.”

Reporter Kristina Herrndobler can be reached at [email protected]

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