URBANA — Jerry Clarke, the former chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, formally announced this morning that he hopes to succeed Johnson in Congress.
Johnson announced last week that he is retiring from Congress at the end of his current term. The 14 Republican county chairmen in the new 13th Congressional District will meet to name a replacement candidate sometime in the next month.
Clarke is the only candidate to make a formal announcement but he is not the only candidate. Others who have said they are interested include state Reps. Adam Brown of Decatur and Dan Brady of Bloomington, former state Rep. Mike Tate of Springfield and Rodney Davis, an aide to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.
Here is a link to audio of Clarke's announcement, courtesy of WDWS.
State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said Monday he had decided against running for the seat. Just last month Rose won an expensive two-way race for a state Senate seat against rural Ellsworth lawyer/physician Tom Pliura.
“I appreciate the many well-wishers who suggested that I run for Congress. But this was a quick and easy decision: I am not interested in running for Congress at this time. Camille and I have been extremely blessed to have so many wonderful friends and supporters, but our children are very young,” said Rose, 38, the father of four children. “So for many of the same reasons that Congressman Johnson mentioned in his retirement speech, our family just isn’t interested at this point. Moreover, I made a commitment as a candidate for the state Senate to work on the state’s budget troubles and to promote an economic business climate that encourages job creation in Illinois — I look forward to that work.”
Clarke, a 27-year military veteran who has served in Iraq, made his campaign announcement at the Champaign County veterans memorial outside the Champaign County Courthouse.
“My campaign will be based on lower taxes and putting money back into the pockets of families,” said Clarke, 46, who lives in Urbana with his wife Lanae and their four children. “I’ll relentlessly work to bring needed jobs and new opportunities to central Illinois by standing up for family farms, small business and working families, not big government.”
Clarke called Johnson his “mentor” and said that politically “we may differ around the edges but for the most part Tim and I pretty much see eye to eye.”
He said he believed he too would be relatively independent of the House Republican leadership. Johnson recently was ranked among the most independent House Republicans.
“I would probably be cut out of Tim Johnson’s mold,” said Clarke, who described himself also as anti-abortion but said he is opposed to an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, as Johnson has suggested.