Winkel, not running, beats Holderfield

Winkel, not running, beats Holderfield

URBANA — Rick Winkel, who withdrew from the race for Champaign County Circuit Court Clerk weeks ago, was the winner Tuesday in a stunning Republican primary victory over Stephanie Holderfield of Mahomet.

Winkel got 8,133 votes to 7,888 for Holderfield, a county board member form Mahomet.

The result now could end up in the courts, said Habeeb Habeeb, the treasurer of the Champaign County Republican Party who is likely to become the new chairman next month.

Or it could end up with the party's precinct committeemen.

Or maybe it will be decided by County Clerk Gordy Hulten, said Habeeb.

"I'd like to find out what the rules are," said Habeeb. "If it's an easy case where Gordy can declare that Stephanie was the winner, then I'd like to move on."

Habeeb said he was startled by the vote for Winkel, a former state senator who had dropped out of the race earlier this month to take on a new job at the University of Illinois.

"I honestly expected her to win. This is all new. I'm surprised that Rick is winning, only because I thought that more people would have known that he dropped out. I really haven't had a chance to digest this," Habeeb said.

Habeeb said he didn't think the vote for Winkel was a deliberate attempt to sabotage Holderfield's candidacy.

"No, I do not think it was deliberate," he said. "I know there are a lot of people who may think that, but I think the name Rick Winkel just is familiar and recognizable to a lot of voters."

Even if the issue goes to precinct committeemen, it's unclear which ones would decide — those who have been in office two years or those elected Tuesday.

"If Gordy takes his time to make a decision and it is, say, 10 days and we end up having to call a meeting, it may be that the meeting happens after our party convention, which will be Wednesday, April 18," Habbeb said. "If the meeting happens after that the new precinct committeemen will be in force and they will make the decision. If it happens before it will be the old group."

Habeeb said he didn't want to suggest that Holderfield should be the GOP candidate in November.

"I don't want to bias the precinct committeemen," he said. "I will be one vote of many. I'm not withholding my support for Stephanie but I'm new at this and I don't want to say anything that I will regret later."

Holderfield could not be reached for comment.

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johnny wrote on March 21, 2012 at 1:03 am

Did the County Clerk celebrate in public or in private?

read the DI wrote on March 21, 2012 at 7:03 am

It's not quite as bad as losing to a dead guy ... but it's pretty close.

squeaky wrote on March 21, 2012 at 7:03 am

Attempting to rationalize Mr. Winkel's "victory" as being the result of his name being more recognizable than Mrs. Holderfield's or that the public wasn't aware that he dropped out of the race is disingenuous.  Mrs. Holderfield is a realtor who has had both her name and face in the public domain for a number of years.  Had the local GOP (in particular the district and precinct committee persons) been better organized, focused and disciplined, this embarrassing outcome would not have happened. 

areader wrote on March 21, 2012 at 9:03 am


vcponsardin wrote on March 21, 2012 at 10:03 am

So what you're saying is that the majority of GOP voters really REALLY don't like Ms. Holderfield and deliberately voted against her by chosing someone who dropped out of the race?  Yikes.  She must be really disliked...





areader wrote on March 21, 2012 at 11:03 am

My response to YOU--where did you come up with such a stupid comment?

vcponsardin wrote on March 22, 2012 at 9:03 am

Squeaky stated that it was disingenuous to think that voters voted for Winkel because of name recognition, implying that voters knew full well what they were doing when they voted for him, meaning that voters must have really not wanted Holderfield.  That's where my "stupid" comment came from.  Get it?  Good.

rsp wrote on March 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Feb 8 2012 N-G 

"When I announced I would run for circuit clerk, I expressed my desire to
reenter the public arena to serve the public. However, I have withdrawn my
name from the Republican primary election for circuit clerk," Winkel said. "I have decided to direct a new center for public leadership at the
University of Illinois. It is an initiative that moved unexpectedly from
concept to reality over the last two months. It has the potential to be of
great benefit to the public interest and I want to devote my energy to
making it succeed."
Winkel's move appears to clear the way for Stephanie Holderfield, a county board member from Mahomet, to be the GOP nominee for circuit clerk.

The only reason Winkel was still on the ballot was because it was too late to remove him. Many probably voted for him because of name recognition. He has been involved in politics for a long time. I don't think those voters were thinking it should be a power grab for the local party to think about putting a third person on the ballot.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 22, 2012 at 3:03 pm

I agree with you.  The voters were Republicans.  It was an honest mistake made by the majority of them.