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Retired Air Force general will seek GOP nod for Senate

09/03/2003

John Borling, a retired Air Force general with 37 years of military service, said Wednesday that he would seek the Republican nomination for the Senate seat being vacated next year by Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill.

Borling flew around the state to announce his candidacy. In a stop at St. Louis Downtown Airport at Cahokia, he recalled arriving at Scott Air Force Base three decades ago to be reunited with his wife and daughter after 6 1/2 years as a POW in Vietnam.

His daughter, then 7, had been three months old when he last saw her.

Fellow POWs included John McCain and Jeremiah Denton, both now U.S. senators.

Borling, 63, is the seventh Republican to announce his candidacy. At least two more say they might run. Even more Democrats have announced, or say they plan to.

Borling acknowledges that he is a political novice. "I wasn't even a declared Republican until about three months ago," he said.

Borling said he generally supports President George W. Bush and considers himself a fiscal conservative and a moderate on social issues. On Wednesday, he took no issue with the way Bush is conducting the war in Iraq.

Borling grew up in Chicago but now lives in Rockford, where he heads an energy service company, Performance Consulting Group. He previously headed Chicago's United Way campaign, which raised $95 million.

Borling also is founder and head of SOS America, a group that advocates a year of universal military or public service for young men. Women could volunteer. SOS stands for "service over self."

He said Republicans began urging him several months ago to run for senator, when it became apparent that Fitzgerald would not seek re-election.

Borling said his wife, Myrna, strongly supported the idea and told him, "It's time for you to do this." His campaign slogan is "Duty Calls Again."

He was vague about money-raising plans and said he would address specific campaign issues later. For now he is stressing his leadership experience.

Borling graduated from the Air Force Academy. His 37 years of military service includes command and staff jobs at the Pentagon, at various bases and overseas, including a stint at NATO headquarters in Belgium.

His decorations include the Silver and Bronze Stars with V for valor and two Purple Hearts.



Reporter Robert Goodrich:
E-mail: rgoodrich@post-dispatch.com
Phone: 618-235-8919