GOP candidates in 13th focus on beating Gill

GOP candidates in 13th focus on beating Gill

CLINTON — Speaking to about 50 Republicans in DeWitt County, the four GOP candidates seeking to succeed U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, in Congress all stressed how they can beat Democratic candidate David Gill in November.

The four — Kathy Wassink of Shipman in Macoupin County, Rodney Davis of Taylorville, Jerry Clarke of Urbana and Erika Harold of Chicago, formerly of Urbana — spoke for about an hour Thursday at a forum organized by DeWitt County Republican Chairwoman Sherry Brown.

Another forum is to be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center in Champaign. It has been organized by Champaign County Republican Chairman Habeeb Habeeb, who attended Thursday night's session in Clinton.

"I know it's going to take $10,000 a day (to run a campaign). That's a lot of money," Wassink said. "I am the one candidate in this race who can combat Gill on the medical issue. I can combat him on the job issue. And I can combat him on the grass-roots issues because these people are fired up, they want somebody different. They just want somebody to go to Washington who is like me and to say, 'No more. We can't have any more of this spending.'"

Harold, a Harvard Law School graduate and former Miss America, told the Republicans that she believes she can help broaden the party's base in the 13th District, which arcs from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to Collinsville on the southwest.

"I can promise you that I will work very hard in this district and I also would work really hard to expand our party. If we're going to grow and persuade more people, it has to be about addition and not subtraction. It's not just about rallying those who already are on the team, but bringing more people to be a part of us," said Harold, who is black and said she is "not the stereotypical Republican."

She said she would work to attract college students, churchgoers and nontraditional Republican groups to her candidacy.

"What is really at stake in this election is about two competing conceptions of government. The Democratic Party feels it's the government's role to take care of people from cradle to grave. They believe in the expansion of government," Harold said. "And I'm not denigrating the motives. The motives are good. They want to care for people. But we as Republicans have a completely different conception of government.

"We know that our conception of limited government is really what empowers people. It creates the greatest amount of wealth for the greatest number of people. That is really what's at stake."

Davis, an aide to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, said he already has been endorsed by his boss and Republican Reps. Aaron Schock of Peoria and Bobby Schilling of Moline. He said his experience in Washington makes him the best candidate in the race "to hit the ground running and make sure that I could stand toe to toe with David Gill and the Democrats from day one on any issue they want to talk about."

The race, he said, "is not going to be an easy race. This race is a target on Nancy Pelosi's pathway to return to power. We've seen the damage the Democrats can cause. This is a race we can't afford to lose."

Davis said he would fight for crop insurance and risk management programs for farmers and for a strong partnership with higher education institutions in the district.

"The colleges and universities in this district are the key to our economic success," he said.

Clarke, currently an aide to Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Wheaton, and a former aide to Rep. Johnson, was the only candidate to address a controversial local issue, saying he would work to stop the proposed dumping of hazardous chemicals at a nearby landfill.

"That doesn't make any sense to me at all that they want to put a chemical landfill over an aquifer. I've got four kids who drink out of the aquifer every day and the need for that is unacceptable," said Clarke, an Iraq war veteran. "I've spent 27 years learning to fight, and I'll tell you this, if I get this position I will fight this landfill."

And in a significant break with Johnson, he said, "Just for the record, I think we ought to drill every place we can, especially up in ANWR." Johnson bedeviled some Republicans with his longtime opposition to drilling in the Alaskan wildlife refuge.

Clarke said he would "work tirelessly and run a very aggressive campaign. I've run three campaigns against David Gill already (on behalf of Johnson) and I know him very well. He is way too liberal for this district. I've defeated him three times now and I'd like to do it the fourth time as the candidate."

The four candidates are seeking to replace Johnson on the ballot after the six-term congressman announced in early April that he did not want to run for re-election. He had comfortably won a three-way GOP primary on March 20.

The 14 Republican county chairmen in the 13th District are scheduled to select the new candidate by Saturday, May 19.

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Sid Saltfork wrote on May 11, 2012 at 9:05 am

They all sound like good Republicans; but who can raise the most money?

Political Observer wrote on May 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Well, Sid, Lt. Col. Jerry Clarke can raise the most money, hands down - it’s no contest. (And with his “Drill, Baby, Drill!” platform, he’ll probably even be able to out-raise the oil money that went to his old boss, Tim Johnson!)

In fact, the Federal Election Commission has already listed Lt. Col. Clark on their website as the candidate who will be opposing Dr. David Gill, so maybe we’re all just watching a kabuki charade play out in real-time with this 4-candidate selection process. Here’s part of the text of an email I received a while back when there were 8 candidates: (Note: I checked it out and it’s still true…Lt. Col. Clarke is listed as the Republican candidate for the open seat in the 13th Congressional District!)


It turns out, though, that Clarke registering his campaign website months in advance isn’t the only strange thing that’s going on here.  Here's yet another strange thing having to do with the Jerry Clarke campaign.

If you go the FEC website to look up campaign receipts, distributions, etc. for the candidates in Illinois District 13, you’ll find that Johnson’s data are gone, even though he won the primary. However, the site still lists data for other people who competed in the primary, including Johnson’s competitors, Michael Firsching and Frank Metzger. Also, the page hasn’t been updated to include the fact that  David Gill won, but the Gill data are there, along with the data of Goetten and Hoffman, as well. (All three are listed as “Challengers.”)

Now, here’s what makes this really strange: Jerry Clarke **IS** listed in the table, even though he’s not been slated as a candidate yet!!! What the heck is he doing, listed in that table?! It’s almost as though someone has already chosen him as the person who will challenge David Gill in the Fall, because he’s the only one of the new challengers currently crawling out of the woodwork to get a prized listing in that table. (i.e. Did someone from the Johnson campaign or the Clarke campaign call up the FEC and say “Johnson’s quit now, so can you take his data out of that table and replace it with Jerome Clarke’s data, because he’s the person who’s going to be taking Johnson’s place?!”)

Here’s how you can check it out:

1. Go to the website:

2. Click on the state of Illinois in the map that’s on that page.

(Note that the map that pops up has an incorrect picture of the Congressional Districts.  District 13 appears as a very small district geographically, even though in fact it stretches from east of Champaign almost to the St. Louis area.)

3. Select the “Choose a District” box, so that you get the drop-down selections, and then click on “13,” for District 13.

4. This will give you the data that I’ve referred to above. Note the listing for “Jerome Clarke.”

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Gee... does Tim get to keep his campaign donations?  Oil money.... well, it got George Junior elected to a higher office.  I really hope it is not a set up deal.  I was hoping that Miss America would be the candidate.  Thanks for the info. Political Observer.

rsp wrote on May 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm

I overheard a conversation in the mall the other day, about how Johnson had all this recognition, people knew him everywhere he went. Whereas the four candidates, they could go anywhere and nobody would recognize them. "Miss America had potential" for it but the others didn't have a chance. It kind of threw me off given the guys involved but after thinking about it for a few days I kind of agree. We don't have any relationship with these people yet they all are claiming to know what we need. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 11, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Expect anti-gun control, anti-abortion, anti-planned parenthood, anti-PBS funding, anti-unions, maintaining the Bush Tax Cuts, eliminating entitlement programs, less government, less regulations, anti-Gay / Lesbian marriage, more religion in government, beating President Obama, and more drilling (oil).  Oh, and no compromises.  That's the ticket this late in the game.  Add being picked on by the liberal press where ever that can be found.  Works every time.

rsp wrote on May 12, 2012 at 2:05 am

You missed Pelosi, Davis said this race was a target on her climb back to power. I think she has to be invoked in every race to make it official.

thelowedown wrote on May 11, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Clarke's listing means he has legally formed a campaign committee registered with the FEC. If you knew any substantive facts about the campaign process, you would know that.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 12, 2012 at 7:05 am

Thanks.  I am a Illinois citizen.  I only know the state politics.  I don't know much about democracy as it relates to elsewhere.  Since you are up on this; I will ask you an earlier question.  Does Tim get to keep his campaign donations after he has dropped out?

rsp wrote on May 12, 2012 at 10:05 pm

You might want to read this, it's not a complete answer but will give you some idea of the issue.

In other words, it's complicated and they like it that way.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 12, 2012 at 11:05 pm

I am afraid to read it.  It may distort my view of politicians.  It may make me cynical of honorable public servants in the state legislature, and congress.  I think that I will wait until a Tea Party activist explains it to me.  I almost cried when Michelle Bachman announced dropping her Swiss citizenship this week.  It really confused me.  How could someone become president when they have citizenship in another country?  When I read about Romney having a classmate pinned down so he could crudely cut his hair off; I wondered if they wore brownshirts at that private school.  No, I better wait until FOX explains it.   Thanks anyway; but the facts can be confusing.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on May 13, 2012 at 7:05 am
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If they want to win the election this fall, they should probably pick Harold.  At least her candicacy might excite voters.  Last I checked, political novices with a chance to shake up the system are popular with voters these days.  Harold may currently live in Chicago, but at least she lives and works in Illinois instead of in Washington D.C. like Clarke and Davis have for many years.

I have little doubt that Harold would win the primary among voters...that is, if representative government actually applied in this "race" for the nomination, and there was actually a primary among voters.

Since it is party hacks who will be making the pick instead, they will probably pick one of their own.  If so, at least pick Davis instead of Clarke to minimize the damage.  If they have the gall to pick Clarke after all this mess, they are gift-wrapping the election for Gill.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Does it really make any difference?  If the GOP handpicked candidate wins, or Dr. Gill wins; will it really make any difference?  Who ever is the winner will go to congress, and join the gridlock.   No compromise is required for the winner.  Without any compromise; the country stumbles further into polarization, a lower national credit rating, and cynicism toward politicians.  The idea that a candidate would state that they are willing to compromise with the other side in saving our country might win them the election.  Given the four current GOP candidates, ex-Miss America is just as good as the rest.   Ever wonder what would happen if no one showed up to vote in an election?  Would they toss a coin to see who wins?  Who would toss the coin?  Who would put it in their pocket?

alabaster jones 71 wrote on May 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm
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I mostly agree, but it's still interesting to speculate, at least for me it is.  The only way you can really make a difference in Congress is to move up the ranks until you are in a leadership position, and to do that you have to kiss enough rear end and sell your soul to god knows how many interests.

These candidates, both Gill and the GOP field, are quite weak and both parties know it.  A guy who loses as many congressional races as Gill has only to finally actually get elected would be quite unusual.  My very early hunch is that whoever wins this November is going to face a strong opponent in 2014 and lose.  Maybe a strong primary challenge too.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 14, 2012 at 8:05 am

Depends on the money backing them.  Sometimes the duck wins in a cock fight.  As long as special interest money is plentiful, candidates will rush forward.  Gill was running against Tim in the past.  He was running against a moderate republican.  This is different.  He will be running against a Tea Party leaner.  The GOP candidate will have to hug the Tea Party to have a chance on winning.  It will come down to the Independents vote if they vote.  People, except the Tea Party members, want a candidate who is willing to compromise at times.  They want the gridlock ended.  Tim would have won hands down if he had ran.  Heck; I even voted for him once, or twice.

rsp wrote on May 15, 2012 at 1:05 am

Gill at least ran against Tim, which is more than we can say about for GOP candidates. And every time he got more votes. Saying he didn't win is unfair. I don't think he was expecting to win, but working to get the name recognition out there and build the base because Tim wasn't going to be there forever. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Given the apperance of a backroom deal, or an Abbott & Costello routine; many voters will be turned off in voting for the GOP candidate.  The candidate will have to kiss the Tea Party baby to get their vote.  That will turn off some other voters.  The candidates seem weak with the exception of Clarke.  Dr. Gill will have his best chance this year.  The major point that both candidates need to stress is the local economy; but don't expect much discussion about it.  It will be the same old drum beat.  At least, flouride in the water is gone. 

johnny wrote on May 15, 2012 at 4:05 pm

I can't tell if that's a typo.  What on earth would make Clarke stronger than the other three?  Pedigree?

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 15, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Experience, war veteran, supporting a popular cause (anti landfill ), and oil drilling.  The selection committee have varying weights with their individual votes.  Some have more say so than others.  Their votes count more than the others.  He knows them; and they know him.  The other three are novices in politics compared to him.  He is the logical choice.  People will complain that it was a set up; but no one encouraged the other three to apply.  Well.... maybe; one, or two were encouraged to make it look fair.  That's only my view of it.  Your's might be different.     

johnny wrote on May 15, 2012 at 11:05 pm

I appreciate the reply.  Clarke has a good bio but some of the worst people skills of anyone I've met in politics.  He doesn't make eye contact and is incredibly aloof.

I'm pretty sure people encouraged Harold to apply.  She's local but doesn't look like she's been sucking on a lemon all day.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on May 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm
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The way I see it, this nomination process is a test of the humility of those making the pick.

Normally, Clarke would be the heavy favorite, since like Sid said he "knows the right people" and has the most political experience.  However, this is obviously not a normal situation.  If they have the gall to still pick Clarke after this mess, even after Johnson admits that Clarke should not seek the nomination, then it shows some serious arrogance on their part in my opinion.  Gill may be a pretty weak nominee himself, but they are really pushing their luck if they think Gill can't win no matter who they choose.

They may not be considered "strong" by the ruling classes of each party, but I think a Gill vs. Harold race would be great for this district.  Both of them seem like fairly independent thinkers who would not be hacks for their respective parties if elected.  We need to send more people like Gill and Harold to Washington.  People who actually live and work in this district or have recently, people with real jobs...not more career beltway insiders like Clarke and Davis who figure to maintain the status quo.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on May 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm
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sid, do you know what position the other candidates have taken on the landfill, if any at all?

I would like to know what all five of them (Gill included) think about the landfill.  I don't plan on voting for anyone this November who thinks that jeopardizing our drinking water is a-ok.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm

The only one that I know of who has mentioned it as reported in the media is Clarke.  I do have to give Rose, Fredrichs, and Jacobsen credit for being against it.  Naomi has a bill now in the legislature.  Whether it gets stalled out until the General Assembly closes at the end of the month is unknown.  At least; the local Republicans, and Democrats are united on this one.  I don't know about Chad Hayes, or Dale Righter.  However if they are asked about it locally; I am sure they will say that they want to study it, and learn more......  There should be more investigative journalism regarding the company planning to build it.  The company started out slow, but acquired more trash companies over the years.  The last few years, it expanded rapidly.  Maybe, I watched too many episodes of the Soprano's; but this whole deal seems shady.  What'a yu gonna do???  People should understand that the central Illinois landfill over an aquafier is the same scenario as the Keystone Pipeline going across the Great Plains aquafier.  The people of Nebraska feel the same way about it as we do about the Clinton Landfill.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on May 17, 2012 at 6:05 am
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Thank you for the information.  I have noticed that those of all political leanings have come out against this landfill.  Why are they so insistent on building it in that spot, instead of one that is less likely to contaminate our water supply?  I only hope that, with the potential distraction of election season arriving, that both voters and candidates mobilize on this issue and do not neglect its importance.

Speaking of The Sopranos, I can picture Tony saying it now...worried about toxic waste contaminating your groundwater?  Forgettaboutit, the landfill "meets or exceeds" all guidelines!  Just take our word for it!

Political Observer wrote on May 17, 2012 at 10:05 pm

A question was asked earlier regarding what the positions are of the 5 candidates for Congress in the 13th Congressional District, including Dr. David Gill, on protecting the Mahomet Aquifer. It turns out that Dr. Gill has spoken out for some time and in some detail on this topic. For instance, here's some information from his website that includes the text of a letter he wrote to the US EPA back in August, 2011:

Clinton Landfill

Citizen Action is Needed Now

The federal EPA has extended the deadline for Public Comment on this project through August 14, 2011. Our communities' safe drinking water supplies are at risk. I urge you to join me in sending your comments on this project to the EPA, and then write letters to the editor of your local paper, call in to radio talk shows, and help spread the word about this foolhardy plan to endanger the Mahomet Aquifer in Central Illinois.

August 4th, 2011

Rafael P. Gonzalez
Land and Chemicals Community Involvement Coordinator
US EPA Region 5
77 W. Jackson Blvd. (L8-J)
Chicago, IL 60604-3590

Dear Mr Gonzalez:

I am writing to urge the U.S. EPA to deny the permit by Clinton Landfill, Inc. of Peoria, Illinois, for a new disposal cell at Clinton Landfill #3 in Clinton, Illinois, to hold polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) waste.

As a physician and former Clinton resident, I recognize the dangers inherent in PCB waste, the importance of a clean and stable water supply, and the potential health threat posed by situating a PCB storage site over a major aquifer. I am appalled by the gross irresponsibility demonstrated by those who would even consider exposing American citizens to such danger.

The US EPA itself has found that, "PCBs have been demonstrated to cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system and endocrine system.” The effects of PCB exposure have been seen for decades at numerous sites around the United States and are well-recognized.

The Mahomet Aquifer provides drinking water for hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans in a 15-county area. This resource is so valuable that local governments and citizens in Central Illinois have formed the Mahomet Aquifer Consortium to safeguard it for future generations. Putting a toxic waste landfill over such an important drinking water source is an incredibly bad idea.

There is no guarantee that safeguards at the landfill will protect the aquifer long term from the seepage of PCBs. Even though the applicant has met the technical requirements of the Toxic Substances Control Act there are important reasons for the Administrator to deny a permit to the Clinton Landfill. As a physician, I am concerned that the American Medical Association’s Council on Science and Public Health maintains there is no such thing as “reasonable” risk when storing hazardous waste over aquifers.

Any landfill that holds PCBs can be expected to degrade and at a future point be a public health risk. A landfill with long-lasting contaminants like PCBs sited over the drinking water source for more than a dozen Central Illinois counties is a ticking time bomb for our public health. Additionally, the Mahomet Aquifer Consortium has raised questions as to whether water table elevation data used by US EPA is correct and believes that correct data shows the site is more likely to contaminate the aquifer than US EPA believes.

There are places in Illinois with more appropriate geology for PCB storage/disposal where the consequences for public health of PCB seepage would be less serious. I urge you to reject this application.


Dr. David Gill
Bloomington, IL

The public can submit comment at:


Political Observer wrote on May 18, 2012 at 12:05 am

AJ 71 asked, "Why are they so insistent on building it in that spot, instead of one that is less likely to contaminate our water supply?"

Well, that's the $64,000 question, isn't it? (Actually, it will be way, way more than $64,000 once all the costs of all the municipalities and various groups having to fight this brain-damaged, idiotic siting proposal are tallied up.)

Here's a little background, and then my take on the issue. There are layers and layers of companies here, and the owners seem to be making a real effort to hide who their principle executives are but (1) Clinton Landfill, Inc. of Peoria is owned by (2) Area Disposal Service, which is a part of (3) Peoria DIsposal Company / Area Disposal Service, which is owned by (4) the Coulter family of Peoria. The name that seems to keep turning up is that of Chris Coulter, who acts as a spokesperson and vice president of Area Disposal Service.

Now, Chris Coulter and his henchmen seem very, very determined to dump their toxic chemicals in that Clinton Landfill. They've spent years in secret negotiations with members of the County Board of DeWitt County, and after offering them money (Sounds like a bribe, doesn't it?), they got the siting passed.

Why Clinton, IL.? Well, my guess is it's because the nuclear power plant was built there. Years ago, Clinton took lots of money for agreeing to let the Clinton power plant be built there. So, if the town was willing to take that money years ago, why wouldn't they be willing to take some more money to take toxic chemicals as well?