SPRINGFIELD — When state Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, announced his Illinois House candidacy in 2017, he promised that, if elected, he would decline a pension, not take a state healthcare plan, donate his salary and only serve three, two-year terms.

Having already followed through on the first three, Caulkins is now making good on that last pledge, confirming to Lee Enterprises that he will not seek reelection in 2024.

The news was first reported by The Illinoize, a website covering state politics.

The Decatur Republican represents the sprawling 88th House District, which stretches from the outskirts of Decatur to the outskirts of Bloomington, picking up largely rural portions of DeWitt, Macon, McLean, Livingston and Piatt counties in between.

“I'm 76-years-old. I don't want to be the guy they wheel out of the breakroom to vote,” Caulkins said with a laugh. “And my wife knows that nothing dies in Springfield, so as long as I'm over there, I'm gonna stay alive and... that's not her plan.”

Kidding aside, the Decatur Republican said a long legislative career was never in the cards amid a desire to travel and spend more time with his wife Jo.

In any case, Caulkins was drawn out of his district by Springfield Democrats who controlled the redistricting process in 2021.

His home — about a half-mile outside the district he represents — is in the district of ally Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, meaning he would have to move if he wanted to run again.

Despite a “very tempting” opportunity to rent a home in Piatt County and establish a residence in his district, Caulkins is pushing forward with plans to move on.

Caulkins has established himself as one of the most conservative members of the Illinois House, aligning himself with a small cadre of far-right lawmakers once informally known as the “Eastern Bloc” and now under the umbrella of the “Illinois Freedom Caucus.”

He made headlines earlier this year as the lead plaintiff in one of three state-level lawsuits challenging Illinois’ semiautomatic weapons ban, which was passed by the Democrat-majority legislature and signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in January.
A Macon County judge ruled in favor of Caulkins in March, finding that the state’s ban was "facially unconstitutional." Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has appealed the ruling and the issue is now before the Illinois Supreme Court.

Prior to his election to the Illinois House, Caulkins served on the Eastern Illinois University’s board of trustees from 2015 to 2018 and as a Decatur city councilman from 2005 to 2009.

A retired Army major, Caulkins has also run several businesses focused on senior and disabled adult long-term care living facilities throughout the state.

A conservative Republican in a legislature dominated by supermajority Democrats, Caulkins’ legislative record was not long. But, he said he was most proud of helping his constituents “with things as simple as a FOID card and as complex as trying to deal with DCFS.”

“Being able to help people… solve problems that they're not able to solve on their own when dealing with the government, I hope that's the legacy that people remember,” Caulkins said.
The district is heavily Republican. Petitions for placement on the March 2024 primary ballot will begin circulating in September.