GOP meeting set to pick circuit clerk candidate

CHAMPAIGN — Republican precinct committeemen tentatively are scheduled to meet April 12 to name a replacement candidate for Champaign County circuit court clerk.

GOP voters in the county last week nominated former state Sen. Rick Winkel for the job, even though he had withdrawn from the race. But his name still was listed on ballots and he defeated Stephanie Holderfield, 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent.

Winkel has reiterated that he will decline the nomination, and pledged to do so in writing as soon as the election results are certified on April 10. After Winkel officially declines the nomination, state law says the party has eight days to fill the vacancy.

Holderfield, a county board member from Mahomet, so far is the only announced candidate for nomination. But the party is encouraging other Republicans to step forward. And party officials say there have been a number of preliminary inquiries about the position.

"Our top priority is that we conduct an open and fair process to nominate a candidate for circuit clerk," said Habeeb Habeeb, the party's treasurer and likely its new chairman after next month. "All interested Republicans who are eligible to serve as circuit clerk, including Stephanie Holderfield, are encouraged to apply. We understand that the committee is now responsible for selecting a candidate for the voters this fall. I encourage local voters to follow the process and contact their precinct committeemen with questions and preferences."

Seventy-six committeemen, chosen by voters at the March 20 primary, are eligible to choose the circuit clerk candidate. The party's bylaws require that two thirds of the committeemen have to be present for the vote to take place. If not enough committeemen can attend April 12, the process will take place April 11.

The committeemen have weighted votes, determined by the number of Republican votes in their precincts last week. One committeeman has 558 weighted votes while others have as few as 20. The winner for the nomination will need to collect at least 50 percent of the weighted votes of the committeemen in attendance.

Those Republicans interested in the nomination for circuit clerk — a position that pays $90,070 annually — are asked to complete a four-page application by 3 p.m. April 10. The applications will be posted online.

The application form asks candidates to list experience as a candidate, political experience including campaign work for other candidates and political activity, church and community activity, and military service and honors. The form also asks applicants why they are seeking the nomination, and whether they "have any personal history, legal or otherwise, that may make you an undesirable candidate to serve as circuit clerk and/or successfully run an election campaign."

The Democratic candidate for circuit clerk appears to be Barbara Wysocki of Urbana. Unofficial returns say she won her party's nomination last week by 16 votes over Lori Hansen, also of Urbana. Wysocki is a former chair of the Champaign County Board.

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rsp wrote on March 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I'm really curious how the people who voted for Holderfield feel about the party asking for others to apply. People who weren't interested until a shortcut was offered. When they didn't have to have public support and just had to make some backroom deals. Maybe they aren't concerned about appearances.

areader wrote on March 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm

This is just plain stupid!

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 29, 2012 at 7:03 am

It's the way the GOP does business.  Holderfield must have some detractors if candidates are being encouraged to come forward.