Blakeman is GOP choice to seek circuit clerk seat

Blakeman is GOP choice to seek circuit clerk seat

CHAMPAIGN — Republican committeemen overwhelmingly picked Katie Blakeman as their candidate for Champaign County circuit court clerk at a special meeting Thursday night at GOP headquarters in Champaign.

Blakeman, 32, who has been an assistant director of development at the University of Illinois' division of student affairs, won on the first ballot with the support of 39 committeemen, garnering 7,739 weighted votes. A total of 6,689 were needed to win.

After her selection was announced, Blakeman said, "I'm very excited about it, and I'm really very touched that the Republican Party has chosen me to be their nominee, and I look forward to running a winning campaign."

Stephanie Holderfield, 50, who lost in the primary, had the support of 30 committeemen, with 5,528 votes.

Holderfield, appearing upset, left the meeting without comment after the results were made public.

Blakeman now plans to leave her job at the UI after next Friday so she can concentrate full time on her campaign.

Earlier in the meeting Thursday, the four applicants for the clerk position each spoke for five minutes, but lengthy question-and-answer sessions meant that the committeemen didn't begin their deliberations until around 8:45 p.m.

All but six of the 76 committeemen were in attendance, including state Rep. Chapin Rose of Mahomet, who earlier in the day had attended a legislative hearing in Grayslake, not far from the Wisconsin border.

An unidentified committeeman abstained from the vote.

Holderfield's presentation may have been the most dramatic of the four, since she has been running for the office longer than any of the other candidates.

She originally had planned to challenge the incumbent circuit clerk, Champaign Republican Linda Frank, who later opted not to run and instead endorsed former state Sen. Rick Winkel.

Winkel dropped out of the race in February — too late to have his name removed from the ballot. In a stunning election day result, Winkel won the primary over Holderfield.

"I'm tired of this process keeping my life in limbo," Holderfield told the committeemen Thursday. "I want to move forward, and you know what? That's why I implore every single one of you to vote for me."

She was asked if she would take legal action against the party if she didn't win the committeemen's backing.

"Am I going to proceed after this? I don't think I'm going to proceed after this," she said. "You guys are making the decision. I trust you. I trust every single one of you to make the right decision. I started this 10 months ago. I campaigned.

"I've got skin in the game. I've got blood on the floor. And I've got my own money in this."

Blakeman was asked how she differentiated herself from the Democratic candidate, former county board chairwoman Barbara Wysocki.

"I'm standing on my qualifications," she said. "My background as a qualified information professional and having customer experience, management experience and budget experience are all things that would qualify me for the position."

Sam Anderson, 34, an attorney, said she was prepared to run an aggressive campaign quickly.

Wysocki, she said, has "an incredible resume. She's a tough candidate but not an unbeatable candidate. That means I have to work 10 times harder than she does. I have to get out there and start the fundraising immediately. I have to go out there and meet people. That means boots on the ground, door to door, making sure that people know who I am."

Alexander "A.J." Ruggieri, 34, also an attorney, said the timing was good for him to run a tough campaign against Wysocki since he is completing a master's degree in corporate law and finance.

"That opens up my schedule to do whatever I have to do from here until November," he said. "It's just a matter of moving pieces from one side to the other.'

But as far as fundraising, "it's going to be a learning process for me," he said.

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alumni90 wrote on April 13, 2012 at 12:04 am

I am so glad that Stephanie Holderfield was not chosen as the Republic candidate for Circuit Clerk.  She is the most arrogant person and it has shown through during this entire race.  Her actions, comments and sense of entitlement have been obvious.

johnny wrote on April 13, 2012 at 1:04 am

I am so glad that the local GOP told 7,919 voters to go to hell.

rsp wrote on April 13, 2012 at 12:04 am

Close to 8000 people diagree with you, compared to the 39 votes Blakeman had. 

"I'm very excited about it, and I'm really very touched that the Republican Party has chosen me to be their nominee, and I look forward to running a winning campaign."

And she's already confused, the "Party" didn't nominate her, a committee did. And what do you think the odds are she was recruited. Sounds like an inside deal to me.

cbrads334 wrote on April 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm
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I agree.  It sounds like an inside job to me as well.

This type of stunt is only one of the many reasons I vote Democratic. 

johnny wrote on April 13, 2012 at 6:04 pm

I have ideological differences with the Democrats, but I'm not sure that matters if this is how the local Republicans conduct themselves.

militantlibertarian wrote on April 13, 2012 at 1:04 am

Haha damn she lost to a guy that didnt even want it so she must not been to good of a canidiate. Its not as funny as guy that lost to a dead guy down in Missouri a few years ago, you gotta be real bad canidate to lose to a corpse, almost as funny as Rick Santorum getting destroyed in his re-election a few years ago as well. She should of just gave it up after the primary.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on April 13, 2012 at 8:04 am
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They recognized his name.


Later, they listened to a Statler Brothers album.

vnconn wrote on April 19, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Wow, you must think voters are really ignorant.  I know at least five voters who voted for Winkel (knowing he had bowed out) simply because they hate Stephanie Holderfield.  Myself included. She's rude, arrogant, condescending and has no business in public office.  I don't even think she should be on the county board.

Who the heck even knows who the Statler Brothers are?

Political Observer wrote on April 13, 2012 at 3:04 am

This has to be taken as a major victory for “Mr.” himself, Acting County Clerk and “Dirty Tricks For Hire Expert” Gordy Hulten, who has been trying to throw Stephanie Holderfield off the Republican ballot ever since she submitted her signed petitions last Fall. After all, it was apparently Hulten who discovered Stephanie Holderfield’s signature on Ben Carlson’s Democratic petition and tipped off the Winkel - Frank Feinen gang to the possible opportunity to dump Holderfield via a ballot challenge late last year.

Let’s review the massive conflicts of interest here. Hulten is not only the Acting County Clerk, for years he ran the dirty “” Limbaugh-like website that specialized in rumors, smears and attacks against Democrats and Democratic candidates. He ran and still runs on the side the extremely lucrative Republican consulting and web-hosting business, “Results Plus Consulting” (that the media choose to deliberately avert their eyes from, to help keep Hulten’s battleship afloat). Hulten and Winkel have a cozy relationship that goes way back; Hulten’s served as Winkel’s campaign manager in the past, he’s also hosted Winkel’s campaign websites in the past, and he even hosted the new Winkel campaign website that was just set up last Fall. Hulten and Deborah Frank Feinen also go way back, as well; Hulten’s hosted (and still hosts) her campaign website, while she serves as the agent of record for his “Results Plus Consulting” business and even turned in his campaign petitions for him last Fall. (Hulten also hosts Linda Frank’s campaign website as well, as well as the websites of numerous other Republican politicians, including Chapin Rose and Tim Johnson. As was noted earlier, this is really quite a lucrative business that Hulten runs on the side, free so far from any kind of public media scrutiny whatsoever.)

Despite all these many conflicts of interest and their effects on the administrative hearing to remove Stephanie Holderfield from the Republican ballot last January (where Hulten served as one of three judges, an employee of Linda Frank served as a second judge, Deborah Frank Feinen served as the attorney for the plaintiff, and her father, Tim Johnson’s former law partner, Steve Frank, served as the plaintiff), Hulten nevertheless appeared outraged that Stephanie Holderfield’s attorney had the temerity to file a motion suggesting that Hulten examine the possibility of recusing himself as a judge in the case because of the appearance of a possible conflict of interest. While such a motion is ordinarily a routine sort of filing in a situation such as this, Hulten said that he took this motion as an attempt to “discredit the process” and seemed to take it as a personal attack, from which he felt “compelled to defend myself.”

After Julia Rietz pointed out in the conclusion phase of this hearing how weak Deborah Frank Feinen’s case was for throwing Stephanie Holderfield off the ballot, Hulten realized that he had no realistic alternative other than to go along with Rietz’s vote to dismiss the case, but it was easy to see how badly he had wanted to do otherwise. In his summation, he verbally lashed out at Holderfield saying that she had “knowingly, willingly and wantonly” violated the law, and that “the brazenness of it defies common sense.” He said that it disturbed him that it was “done so cavalierly,” and added that, “I am incredibly concerned with the possibility of political maneuvering.” He seemed to be very deeply disappointed that there just wasn’t a strong enough legal case to have her thrown off the ballot in that administrative hearing.

But in the end, more than 3 months later, Mark Shelden stepped in and gave some lobbying help that assisted in sending Holderfield down to defeat after all, after the majority of Republican precinct committeemen got the message that party insiders wanted recent applicant Katie Blakeman as their preferred candidate on the ballot in the Fall. Aren’t Republican voters glad that they get to vote in primaries, so that their chosen candidates can act as "place holders," then later resign, so that party insiders can later choose other preferred candidates to run in their places in the general election in the Fall?

areader wrote on April 13, 2012 at 5:04 am

Well stated!!!!!

bconway wrote on April 13, 2012 at 9:04 am

The main point is the Republican voters did vote and she lost - Period.  You must be a Democrat - blaming everyone else for your loss.

cbrads334 wrote on April 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm
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She lost to a phantom that was never intending to take the position of candidate for the GOP  at the time of election. If the Republicans wanted another candidate instead of Holderfield, why didn't one of the other 'golden boys' run for that office?  Perhaps the GOP felt that the others could not compete with Holderfield in an election decided by the voters.

The way to circumvent the voters from choosing who would run for that office was exactly the way the Republican committee operated, so that they could choose their preferred candidate.  They had already chosen the candidate THEY wanted.

As for your comment above, why would a Democrat care about how the Republicans implode amongst themselves?  It's akin to watching the Three Stooges attempt to run a campaign, except for the fact that there's a lot more than just three of them.


areader wrote on April 13, 2012 at 5:04 am

I agree with "johnny"--this is POLITICS at it's WORSE!!!!  It's just "who ya know"!   A total embarrassment to voters--and I know I'm not the only one who is disgusted!!!!!

cmarti429 wrote on April 13, 2012 at 6:04 am

Congrats to Katie Blakeman.  She will do a great job and appears to be the better candidate to run in November.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on April 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm
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I wish there were some rule that guaranteed Americans a republican form of government.

A Very Busy Mom wrote on April 13, 2012 at 10:04 am

It was very obvious that some one had it in for Stephanie Holderfield.

Whatever this extravaganza was - it sure gives the appearance of someone having paid their dues and now has been rewarded for their work for someone.

Blakeman was previously chairman of the Young Republicans of this area - so she must have done something right.

This is a total disregard of the election process - it stinks badly.  I am a Republican and cannot believe what my party is doing.  They look so slimey that it makes my stomach ache.

Not only with the Holderfield debacle but now with the Tim Johnson situation.

Our forefathers created a system to follow - we need to follow the rules; the PEOPLE are the ones who are supposed to elect the officials not the favored members of a political party.

I am so disappointed that I am not even sure that I want to stay in the Republican party.

C-U Townie wrote on April 13, 2012 at 11:04 am

I have long believed that politics is just the perception of choice for the week, month, or occasionally for the year. That was just the mouth pieces and the platforms that candidates and elected officials boasted. Now we see that the playground of politics has generated enough depravity that it has seeped into the what used to be a solid system... I can only imagine it will get worse. This should serve as a cautionary tale for candidates and elected officials. You want to know why the average Joe doesn't bother paying attention to politics? They a) don't trust the stories they hear or read and b) are wondering what the process is because it keeps changing. If you were to ask people to be honest about their faith in politicians they may say it's not good. As the water gets muddier and the stakes get steeper people will question and wonder about those running for office and those already there. Doesn't Illinois have enough problems? Other states must think there's something in our water that more and more politics are becoming dirty. 

wayward wrote on April 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Barbara Wysocki -- the candidate who actually ran in her party's primary and won.

stbryson wrote on April 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I am sure that the Republican Party in Champaign County won't miss my votes in future elections, since they determined that my votes in the primary - for Stephanie Holderfield and Tim Johnson - were not importanant.  I suppose I was just being naive in thinking that there was still some integrity in the political process. 

bconway wrote on April 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Yes your vote counted but there were more for the other candidate.  She lost plain and simple. 

areader wrote on April 13, 2012 at 7:04 pm

No she didn't!  Pls. read other comments!  The election was a "set up" from the word "go"!   And as others have stated the Republicans got what they wanted and just the WAY they wanted--slick and slimy!  Republicans politics--what a joke! 

JKelley wrote on April 13, 2012 at 4:04 pm

You live in a Representative Republic. Your precint elected a commitiman who represented you in the central commitee meeting. That person, along with the rest of the central committee decided together who to run.

The system worked exactly as it should.

This wasn't a back room deal. This was following the rules exactly. Every decision can't be made by every person.

An election was held, Mrs. Holderfield lost. A new election was held, as it should have been. Mrs. Blakeman won.

I see a lot of dissatisfaction with the process, but there is no alternative.

Give Mrs. Blakeman a chance. She didn't create the process, she only stood up when the call came. She will be an excellent candidate and an even better Clerk. Her resume is perfect for the position.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on April 14, 2012 at 3:04 am
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In all seriousness, your first paragraph is perfectly true  — if we accept the de facto reality of political parties. But your conclusion is based on a faulty premise.


There is certainly an alternative, contrary to your assertion. It's the elimination of political parties from state law.* It's the elimination of state sanctioned partisan activity. It's the elimination of taxpayer-funded partisan primaries.


 Federalist 9, 10 & 51: factions = bad.  

George Washington's farewell address:  political parties = bad.


No, our republican form of government is not premised on the notion of precinct commiteemen.  Yes, our partisan nomination process is based on the codification of precinct committeemen.


It's an important distinction.





*Yes, political parties are codified in Illinois Code. 

rsp wrote on April 14, 2012 at 4:04 am

"Your precint elected a commitiman who represented you in the central commitee meeting."

You're making an assumption that the committee was representing the people and not an agenda to kick someone off the ballot for revenge. If they went there for the only purpose of getting rid of Holderfield they didn't vote for Blakeman. They were voting against Holderfield. So Blakeman actually has less support that she thinks. But they think she can win the election. A backroom deal is when you have someone call up the person and say hey would you do this. We will vote for you the job is yours. Have you stopped to ask yourself about the ethics of the people who would jump at this chance? Knowing someone had campaigned for months, had the support of thousands of people, had spent a lot of money and they would take an active roll in this? You don't get this? 

mankind wrote on April 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm

I still don't think Holderfield should have been automatically named the winner back in March but it's even more clear now that the Republican insiders are guilty of manipulating what's supposed to be a democratic process. First came the conveniently timed withdrawal of Rick Winkel one week after overseas and military ballots were sent out, meaning that for whatever reason the ballot couldn't be changed -- I guess if we're going to make a big mistake on one ballot we have to make the same mistake on them all, so the reasoning goes in the clerk's office. That was followed up by the absolute failure of the county clerk's office to educate voters of the fact  that one of the most prominent names on the ballot had dropped out. I guess we were all supposed to have read the one single News-Gazette story on the matter. News flash, Mr. Hulten: Not everybody subscribes to the paper and not everyone is a political junkie. That's not supposed to mean that we're easy pickings.  

Anyway, I'd be willing to write it off as incompetence if the story ended there. But then came the conveniently timed resignation of Tim Johnson days after the primary, ensuring that we'd get another committee-selected candidate. And now this, the insider selection of some 32 year-old out of nowhere when thousands of people voted for another candidate. That makes at least three Republicans on the local ballot this fall who were or will be selected by committee -- Blakeman, Tim Johnson's replacement, and Mr. Hulten, lest we forget the resignation that led to his appointment. And if you aren't all good tail-wagging Republicans on general election day you can rest assured they'll be thinking of ways to repeat these kinds of stunts in Novembers of the future.    

bmwest wrote on April 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm
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I don't think this was any grand conspiracy to deny Holderfield the nomination.  If Winkel was just a proxy to let the committeemen pick a candidate, it would have been a very risky move for him to drop out before the election as he did since Holderfield wasn't that far off from winning outright.  I think he legitimately wanted to run but then had something more important come up.  Just my impression but I could be totally wrong.

I'm not sure I agree that the nomination should have gone to Holderfield outright.  There were likely others who would have ran if Winkel hadn't.  They probably knew he was the stronger candidate, one that they themselves could support, so they deferred to him.  Imagine a well-liked incumbent running in the primary against someone who is known to effectively be a member of the opposite party.  Because the incumbent is so well-liked, no serious contenders challenge him or her.  Now imagine that person dies a few weeks before the election.  Should the party be obligated to support the lone remaining candidate?  In my opinion, no.  Holderfield obviously deserves consideration for the nomination as someone who ran a serious primary campaign but in the end it should be about the best candidate.  Maybe it was Holderfield, maybe it was Blakeman, maybe it was someone else.

Who gets to decide who the best candidate is in this circumstance?  Ideally, we'd like it to be put back to the voters through another primary process.  However, this would be very expensive and could even repeat itself again and again over the summer.  The simpler solution is to use the committeemen as a proxy for the voters.  They are supposedly active members of the party and are in fact elected by the voters to serve purposes such as this.  If you voted a partisan ticket in this past primary, you may have noticed an opportunity to vote for a committeeman.  They're not often contested and in some districts that don't have a very active membership of your party affiliation there may not be a choice at all if no one ran.  However, anyone can run and it only takes 10 signatures to get on the ballot.  If you want more say in the outcome of situations like this, I urge you to consider running next time around.

Not so much applicable for local or qualification-specific jobs like this but I will make a plug for sortition here since it relates to Tim Johnson's office mentioned by another commenter.  I truly believe that we would be best served in a representative democracy by randomly selecting our representatives similar to the way we select members for jury duty.  Some would argue that legislation is best left to professional lawmakers.  However, my impression is that most legislation is written by staffers anyway.  Also, these are the same professionals that have such a low approval rating, spend billions every two years campaigning, and get caught up in scandals such as kickbacks, trading legislation for revolving door jobs, and insider trading.  It's not rocket science what they do.  They listen to the people, draft up a potential solution to problems, listen to experts, make changes as needed, and then vote on it.  It's really not that far off from jury duty, actually.  There may be a few bad apples that get in but I'd take a few bad ones than most of them being bad.  I'd also like to see those billions spent on campaigns go back into our economy for more productive uses.

Sorry for the thesis...just some thoughts I wanted to share.

Army Wife and Mother to 3 wrote on April 13, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Excellent observations. I actually created an account so I could say so.

I for one am glad for the outcome in this situation. I voted for Ms. Holderfield, but with great hesitation. I had doubts about her qualifications and her general electability. I have no doubts about Mrs. Blakeman's. I've had the privledge to meet her in person on a few occasions and found her to be personable and very intellegent. After reviewing her educational background and taking into account her current position, I don't think we could ask for a stronger candidate come this fall.


ROB McCOLLEY wrote on April 13, 2012 at 6:04 pm
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Why such a thoughtful & sensible reply? We're here to snicker!

stupidis wrote on April 13, 2012 at 11:04 pm

So let's get this straight. Holderfield was never really capable of the job of Circuit Clerk or is it that what people have screamed so loudly that she is not qualified that makes her unqalified?  I viewed her resume as well as everyone elses and found her to be very qualifed based upon the job qualifications on the Circuit Clerk's web site. 

How about who currently holds the Circuit Clerk position, what qualifed her to be in the position for 20 years?  She is rude, her office is run very poorly, she has no oversight and many, many people have so many mistakes in the files or there are missing documents for court, that court is actually held up.......  people are close to losing their licenses, paid fees and fines are not reported correctly and the public has to hire an attorney to clean up her messes.  She never speaks to anyone because she hides in her office all day, if she is even there.  No one ever gives you a correct answer, people are rude, the web site is a disaster and she retired then appointed someone else to run in her place because she obviously was afraid to run against Holderfield.  Hence Winke,l who decided to participate in this fiasco with Linda Frank, then pulled out of the race by withdrawing because a position he was working on for months came through for him; even after he told everyone how he missed public service, over and over again.  People voted for this guy because they liked him or recognized his name.   Winkel withdraws from a race yet he is still the nominee?  How is that possible?  Regardless of "when" you withdraw, it is still a withdraw so why were the votes counted?  Maybe because Hulten had it out for Holderfield or was it Frank or the entire county?  There maybe a few who voted for him in opposition to Holderfield, but what are their real motives?  If someone actually has a "hesitation" on voting for someone why would them be ignorant enought to go a head and vote for them?  Stinky, stinky, stinky!

I've seen Holderfield on tv, I've seen her in person, and I've heard her speak.  I've asked many people in the community about her and most everyone I ask about her has something really nice to say about her.  She seems to be a very intelligent and well spoken individual, contrary to the lies being spead about her.  She is on the County Board and she won her race obviously, but yet all of the sudden people hate her?  Hmmmmm!

There were three other candidates that decided they wanted a job andwere greedy enough to jump into the race and apply to the GOP for the position.  My question to each of them is if you thought that there were problems in the office, and maybe you all were so blind and did not know about them; and the lawyer who said she works with the Circuit Clerks office is really blind and dumb, did not realize there were major problems in that office?

Geed seems to be the only reasonable answer as to why they jumped/lept in this race, but not before Holderfield or even after Holderfield or before Winkel after Frank retired.  Oh yes that's right, she picked someone that was sure to beat Holderfield, do I have that all correct?  To bad Winkel withdrew, but I guess he really did not withdrawal because Hulten said so!  So that made it so, right?

In my opinion, I think Holderfield jumped into a race to challenge the current Circuit Clerk because she wanted to see the office run more efficiently.  Because she challenged a sitting incumbant, she was punished by her party.  I saw a tweet on WDWS that Holderfield even supported Blakeman and is not goingn to file a suit against the County Clerk/Hulten.  So why all of the continued hate?  Are a few people trying to convince all of the rest of us that what this stinkining GOP did was right, fair and just?  Nearly 8000 voters where told that their votes don't count, bottom line, they were told they don't need to vote because the "Party" has it under control for them?  So I guess that I will just vote a straight D ballot in the fall and I encourage everyone that voted for Holderfield to do the same, maybe then your votes will count for something!  Because I might not or you might not pick the right person, we should all just let the 70 something Precinct Committeemen pick for us!  Hell no, I see the kind of people you pick for me, I'll do it myself!  Vote D in November!  Get rid of all of the R's in the's time we teach them a lesson or two or three or more!

johnny wrote on April 14, 2012 at 2:04 am

Anyone would be an improvement over Linda Frank.  Until recently, I thought Republicans, Democrats, and Independents agreed on that.  Anyone who actually uses the office can be grateful to Holderfield as well as Barb Wysocki, Lori Hansen, and Evelyn Underwood just for offering an alternative.  That office has been a joke since the nineties.

justthetruthplease wrote on April 18, 2012 at 6:04 am

Stephanie?  Is that you?

wayward wrote on April 14, 2012 at 10:04 am

Blakeman now plans to leave her job at the UI after next Friday so she can concentrate full time on her campaign.

It's possible that this is really just a matter of unclear language in the story, but I couldn't help doing the math anyhow.  Does this mean that her last date of work at UI would be April 20?  I'd assume that Blakeman would be conscientious enough to give two weeks notice -- if so, did she do it before April 12th, when the GOP selected their circuit clerk candidate?  If the sentence just means that she'll be putting in notice at UI soon, that would make more sense.

philip wrote on April 15, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Mrs. Blakeman was planning to take the summer and fall off of work before this opening was announced.  I believe they recently had a new baby.

philip wrote on April 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I voted for Ms. Holderfield in the primary.  At the time, I did not know very much about her.

Over the past two weeks, and through conversations with my constituents, I came to the conclusion that she is entirely unqualified for a $96,000 per year job in management.

The brochure that she passed out at the meeting was written by somebody who appears to barely surpass the threshold for functional literacy.  There were gross mistakes in punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and sentence structure.  If you cannot communicate via written word, there is absolutely no way that you can manage an office.  Our duty was first and foremost to select a candidate who is qualified for the job.  At the end of the day, nobody using the courthouse cares if the circuit clerk is a Republican, a Democrat, or a Communist.  We want a job done well.  Mrs. Blakeman is qualified for the job.

rsp wrote on April 14, 2012 at 6:04 pm

I'm a little confused, you were grading her application? Not considering any of her experience and hard work to get here? See, I was having a little trouble reading your post, it seems to be missing a word or two, and the tense is incorrect in a few of your sentences. Maybe you aren't the "right" person to be making this decision, after all you voted for Holderfield without knowing anything about her. What does that say about your judgement?

farm-wife wrote on April 16, 2012 at 8:04 am

I voted for Stephanie Holderfield after the many media outlets broke the story of Rick Winkel's decision to take a position at the U of I rather than run for Circuit Clerk.  Sadly for Ms. Holderfield, it was too late to remove Mr. Winkel's name from the ballot.  I am relatively certain that part of Mr. Winkel's votes were brought on by name recognition.  This did not bode well for Ms. Holderfield either.  However, fair being fair... Ms. Holderfield did in fact lose the primary election to Mr. Winkel. 

In accordance with the law, it became a decision for the elected precinct committeemen to chose a candidate to run on the ballot in the November general election.  I can equate to the job of the precinct committeemen to that of the electoral college.  These are the representatives we send to the National Convention to cast a vote on our behalf for a candidate for President. 

Moving on, after hearing the speeches and the Q/A sessions, the precinct committeemen had a difficult task in front of them.  There were 4 well qualified candidates for the nomination.  It came down to choosing the best person.  Unfortunately for her again, Ms. Holderfield did not appear to be the best candidate for the nomination. 

I commend Ms. Holderfield for holding her head high and choosing to support Mrs. Blakeman rather than causing more friction.  She will be beneficial to the party.  I hope all Champaign County GOP's will follow her lead and support our candidate for Circuit Clerk.

formerrepublican wrote on April 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Actually, in accordance with the law, votes for Winkel should have never been counted and voters should have been notified of the error in the ballot (that Winkel's name was on it and couldn't be removed).

Had the law been followed, we wouldn't be here today and we wouldn't have the situation where some backroom deal lead to forcing some unknown person was forced down the throats of 16,000 republican primary voters who never had a say.

Good job, Republicans... always ready to eat their own.

Qualified00 wrote on April 17, 2012 at 8:04 am

I have be reading about qualifications of each of the candidates and it was determined, from reading this article and all of the other posts that something is just not right here.  Let’s take a stroll back in time when the current circuit clerk decided to resign from the race, shall we?  Linda Frank decided to appoint, in her place, Rick Winkel who is an attorney, formerly on the Champaign County Board, House of Representative and Senator – over qualified, however, the chosen one to run in her place.  He on the other hand had other plans and continued to “job seek” the entire time he was campaigning.  The position comes through, he, Winkel leaves Frank high and dry!

The “Party” looks like they are getting behind candidate Holderfield that started her campaign months ago by announcing that there is no longer a Primary Race!  The “Party” even gives her money to fund her campaign, which is so noble of the “Party”!  I guess they, the “Party”, thought she was qualified finally, or did they?  The “Party” even looked like they really wanted to help by announcing on the radio that Winkel was out and NOT to vote for him, because the votes would not count!

Election night, the votes counted by none other than a “Party” insider, Gordy Hulten who said all along he would count the votes of a candidate that withdrew from the race!  Now you have to stop and ask yourself a question right here, “Self, why would the County Clerk decide to count the votes of a candidate that decided to drop out of the race?  Self, why would the County Clerk decide that he would not accept the withdrawal of a candidate, even though he said he had a full time position elsewhere, and was not interested in the position of Circuit Clerk”?  Now, I am a runner and I compete in races and when a runner “withdrawals” from a competition, that usually means that they are not participating in the race.  The officials of the competition typically do not count that runner as a competitor, because the runner has the choice to compete or to NOT compete.  Therefore, from my perspective Winkel was no longer eligible to receive votes due to HIS choice to NOT compete!

Fast forward to days ago where applicants determined that they would enter the race of “Circuit Clerk”, 3 other candidates come from virtually nowhere to apply.

  1. Katie Blakeman
  2. Alex Ruggeri
  3. Sami Anderson

So let’s take a look at the 3 individually; we will leave out the original candidate, Holderfield for the time being.

  1. Blakeman – Qualifications as follows:

Neighbor to Linda Frank and handpicked by Linda, Best friend to Kristin Williams (who happens to be employed by Habeeb Habeeb) and an officer on the Executive Committee for the Republican Party. Former Young Republican Chair. Friend to Hulten and Barickman: and of course she has her degree and is employed at the University of Illinois!

  1. Alex Ruggeri

Knows no one, but a stellar individual.

  1. Sami Anderson

Practicing attorney, married to a military hero who was also an intern at one time to Chapin Rose.  Now as I see it, she holds some of the same “Qualifications” as the former original third candidate, Rick Winkel, who was hailed as the other “PERFECT” candidate.

Vote count:

Blakeman 39 Precinct Committeemen

Holderfield 30 Precinct Committeemen

Now, why did NONE of the other applicants receive votes?  I would have thought that the attorney, Anderson who resembled the other candidate, Winkel, with a law degree should have received a few votes.  Now, if Anderson would have received votes, would she have taken them away from Blakeman or Holderfield?  Hmmmmm!

ericbussell wrote on April 18, 2012 at 5:04 am

While your racing analogy is logical, Hulten was advised by Julie Reitz, District Attorney and non-"Party" member, to count Winkle votes after the State Board of Elections encouraged him to consult with her.  Hulten's job is simply to count the votes and report them. 

I suspect the reason why Blakeman and Holderfield were the only two to receive votes was because most had never met the other two candidates.   

Outside of the personal relationship factor, is Blakeman the most qualified and/or more qualified than Holderfield?  The Precinct Committeemen hopefully were voting on who they thought was the most qualified and most likely to win against Wyscocki. 

I think it would be helpful to your case (this was an inside "Party" job) is to explain why Holderfield is more qualified than Blakeman.  Your theme is qualifications, yet you fail to share any of Holderfield's qualifications.   If Holderfield is more qualified and was more likely to win in November, then it would be a shame that she wasn't nominated.  Unfortunately, nobody seems to be making that case. 

fedupwithit wrote on April 18, 2012 at 8:04 am

That is pretty Easy She is more qualified because she actually followed the rules to be a candidate. She filled out the petitions, She acquired the needed signatures, She pounded the pavement for months and 8000 Champaign County Voters said she was qualified. It is not up to the local gop to decide who is "best qualified" or who is "most likely to win" Follow the votes. Plain and Simple Holderfield was punished by the local GOP for her previous wrongs to the party. Hulten, Habeeb, and every precinct committeeman should be ashamed of themselves. Each and every one of them are Political Scum, They are what is wrong with politics in this state. Forget about the voters we will do what we want. People are outraged and there will be a reckoning. I will personally make sure of it.

ericbussell wrote on April 18, 2012 at 9:04 am

You have to remember that more voters voted against Holderfield than voted for her.  What about those voters?   It's one of those situations where you're damned if you and damned if you don't.  

A significant number of the Precinct Committeeman voted in favor of Holderfield.  As for the rest of those scumbags (I kid), none of them asked to be in that position and nobody was lobbying voters to vote for Winkel.  Nobody wanted this negative attention. 

Other than voting in Wysocki, you can recruit and help on the campaigns to replace those committeemen who voted for Blakeman.   That will show them...  

In my precinct, I'm going to vote for the candidate who is committed to recruiting and helping to elect the most qualified and most electable candidates.  

Plain and simple, many precinct committeemen questioned her electability.   It would have been so much better if Holderfield would have simply won the primary election.  Nothing says "I am electable" like winning an election.  

formerrepublican wrote on April 18, 2012 at 11:04 am

I wonder how those voters would have voted if Hulten had put up signs and informed voters Winkel dropped out...

This garbage stinks and makes me glad I left and joined the Libertarians.

ericbussell wrote on April 19, 2012 at 8:04 am

I wonder how many more people would have voted for Holderfield if the campaign would have made some signs, recruited a few volunteers, and gone out the precinct locations before voting started with signs informing voters that Winkel had dropped out? 

johnny wrote on April 18, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Eric, just because you personally weren't lobbied doesn't prove there wasn't lobbying.

rsp wrote on April 19, 2012 at 2:04 am

There have been people who have acknowledged voting for Winkel because they forgot he had dropped out of the race. I'm sure there are probably some others who voted on name recognition alone. That count wasn't very far apart. As far as the second vote goes, they were weighted votes. Just a few people made the difference. Who voted for Blakeman and how much were their points worth? Who are they connected to? Look at the list.

ericbussell wrote on April 19, 2012 at 9:04 am

The number of Precinct Committeemen that voted for Blakeman is 39/69.  57% of the preinct committeemen in attendance voted in favor of Blakeman, not factoring in their weighted vote. 

justthetruthplease wrote on April 19, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I voted for Winkel and I knew he was not a candidate.  I could not vote for Holderfield.  If she had become the Republican candidate I would have to vote for Wysocki in the fall.

All of this is silly anyway...why do we even elect an 'office manager'?  Why isn't this just a hired position?  The court system should not be political at all.  I'll bet we could hire an excellent person for less than $96,000.


ericbussell wrote on April 19, 2012 at 9:04 am

Can you name one person who was lobbying people to vote for Rick Winkel?  Can anyone?  If there was some secret campaign that was so secret that nobody heard about it, I just have to question whether such a campaign ever existed at all. 

Political Observer wrote on April 19, 2012 at 9:04 pm

     In this thread, there are several contradictory opinions put forth on the issue of whether Gordy Hulten followed the law or not in how he handled the votes that were cast in favor of Rick Winkel for Circuit Clerk.  In one view, the votes for Winkel should have never been counted in the first place and voters should have been notified of the error in the ballot (that Winkel's name was on it and couldn't be removed).

     On the other hand, Eric Bussell, ever the apologist for his friend and fellow Republican Precinct Committeeman Gordy Hulten, insists (in this discussion thread and elsewhere) that everything Hulten did was exactly what he had to do according to law:

 “Hulten was advised by Julie Reitz, District Attorney and non-"Party" member, to count Winkle [sic] votes after the State Board of Elections encouraged him to consult with her.  Hulten's job is simply to count the votes and report them.”

     So who’s correct? Well, it turns out that a News-Gazette article back on March 28th called, “Sandbox Politics Can Take Its Toll” went into this issue in some detail…and it turns out the situation is quite a bit more complicated than what Mr. Bussell has claimed here. (Bussell is only telling News-Gazette readers about part of the recommendation from the State Board of Elections, which is the part that Hulten liked and decided to follow; he doesn’t bother to mention the part of the recommendation that Hulten didn’t like, and then decided to ignore...or that given contradictory recommendations, Hulten could have requested a clarification from the State Attorney General Lisa Madigan.)


County Clerk Gordy Hulten rejected the Illinois State Board of Elections' recommendation to ignore the Winkel votes and recognize Holderfield as the winner. Hulten intends to certify Winkel as the winner and then allow the county Republican Party to decide who its candidate will be — Holderfield or some mystery pol who's currently lurking in the shadows.


Why did more voters vote for Winkel than Holderfield? Probably for a variety of reasons.

Some people may not have realized Winkel had withdrawn. Some may have supported him to lay the groundwork for another nominee to be named by the party. Some may have voted for Winkel to express a personal objection to Holderfield.

But what matters is what voters did, not why they did it.

That leaves the legal issue — conflicting opinions provided to Republican Hulten by Democratic State's Attorney Julie Rietz and the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Board of Elections Executive Director Rupert Borgsmiller said the advice his general counsel gave to Hulten about Winkel's withdrawal is the same it gives to other election officials, including the recent withdrawal of former state Rep. Roger Eddy, a Hutsonville Republican, from the primary election.

"This is what our best practices are," said Borgsmiller, who said his office advised Hulten to publish notices in polling places that Winkel had withdrawn and then, after the election, to ignore votes for Winkel.

While providing that recommendation, Borgsmiller said he also urged local officials to seek advice from their state's attorney.

Hulten did seek an opinion from Rietz's office and, based on that, ignored the state board of elections.

Steve Ziegler, first assistant in Rietz's office, disagreed with the state board because there is "nothing in the election code that allows the county clerk to ignore those votes."

"(Winkel's) there on the ballot," said Ziegler, who characterized the state's board recommendations as "fraught with difficulties."

Opinions, of course, are just that. What matters is a ruling from the courts about the status of the law or, in its absence, an opinion from Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Members of the state elections board or Rietz should seek such an opinion from Madigan to clarify this issue.


ericbussell wrote on April 23, 2012 at 7:04 am

"On the other hand, Eric Bussell, ever the apologist for his friend and fellow Republican Precinct Committeeman Gordy Hulten, insists (in this discussion thread and elsewhere) that everything Hulten did was exactly what he had to do according to law"

As of April 10, I am not a Precinct Committeeman and Hulten is not a Precinct Committeeman.  Other than a vote in the primary election, I did not have a vote in nominating Blakeman.  

RE: "apologist".  I'm not apologizing.  Your game is clearly to suggest a different reality than what is true and there is obviously no end in sight. 

shapemaster wrote on November 04, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I have nothing against this woman.  I personally wish her well but I will not vote for her because I do not appreciated how the runner up Holderfield was treated.  This was a stupid outcome.  It showed either that the Republican electrorate are dumber then dumb or they hated Stephanie. I will not vote for the Republican and most likely will just withhold my vote because voting for a Democrat will make me vomit and I just don't want to be sick in the voting booth as I vote out Obama and vote in Mr. Romney.

I am not at all happy with the GOP in my state.  You have lost me as a suporter and I may just go change my party affiliation to Independent after this election.  You've lost me.