GOP county chairs pick Davis for 13th District

GOP county chairs pick Davis for 13th District

SPRINGFIELD — Republican officials have chosen Rodney Davis as the GOP nominee for longtime Congressman Tim Johnson's seat.

Davis, 42,  of Taylorville, is an aide to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville. He'll take on Democrat David Gill, a Bloomington physician, in the November election.

Davis’ selection comes six weeks after Johnson, R-Urbana, who easily won the Republican primary, announced he was stepping down at the conclusion of his sixth term in Congress to spend more time with his family.

Davis was chosen over Jerry Clarke of Urbana, longtime Republican strategist, current chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Wheaton, and former Johnson aide; Erika Harold of Urbana, a lawyer practicing in Chicago; and Kathy Wassink of Shipman, the owner-operator of a business that serves special needs children in central and southern Illinois School districts.

Champaign County Republican Party Chairman Habeeb Habeeb declined to say how the vote went but said it took three ballots and that he proudly stuck with Harold through all three as did McLean County Republican Party Chairman John Parrott.

“Sometimes you immediately recognize a wonderful opportunity. And the Republican party had that wonderful opportunity (with Harold),” said Habeeb, barely able to conceal his disappointment that she was not chosen.

Habeeb said he felt proud to have represented the wishes of voters in Champaign County in supporting Harold.

“I sought input from precinct committeemen and the public as a whole and I got hundreds of emails from people in all walks of life from party insiders to Tea Party members. Conservatives supported her, moderates supported her, independents supported her. It was incredible how wide the support was from a variety of members of the party,” said Habeeb.

Both Habeeb and Parrott said they talked to Harold after the selection was announced and found her to be gracious and open to serving the party in the future.

“She said everything happens for a reason. She’s enjoyed this process and respects the process,” Habeeb said.

“I told her to keep her chin up, that this was a great opportunity for her,” said Parrott. “I asked her if she would stay in the fight for the future. She said ‘absolutely’ and is looking forward to the next opportunity ...”

The News-Gazette could not reach Harold for a comment but Davis issued a written statement expressing his gratitude to the county chairmen for choosing him.

"As I traveled throughout the district during the selection process, voters told me that they wanted a common-sense, fiscally conservative representative in Washington to help restore the economy, create jobs and cut wasteful, out-of-control spending. Should the voters of the 13th district elect me in November, that is exactly what I will be," Davis said.

Davis has his work cut out for him. The new district stretches from Champaign and Urbana on the northeast through Decatur, includes parts of Bloomington, Normal and Springfield and arcs down to the southwest to Collinsville and Edwardsville.


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Sid Saltfork wrote on May 19, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Will he help stop the gridlock in Congress?  Will he compromise on the big issues?  Has he already taken the Norquist pledge?  Both parties have to give a little for the country's sake.

chmbana wrote on May 19, 2012 at 8:05 pm

I hope Habeeb's reaction wasn't as negative as this article portrays.  Rodney Davis is a good man who I've heard Habeeb talk kindly about before, and he will make a great candidate.  If Habeeb is really as negative as this, I've lost a little respect for him.  I truly hope that's not the case.

johnny wrote on May 19, 2012 at 11:05 pm

It was.

Truman wrote on May 19, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Mr. Habeeb has been Champaign County Chairmen since April 18th of this year and as Chairman he had the sitting Congressional seat and the weighted vote of all 14 counties and he had two of the four canidates from Champaign in the final four canidates and he could not put together enough votes to get either Ms. Harold or Mr. Clarke as our canidate to replace Mr. Johnson I think Champaign County Republicans should pick a better Chairman this guy is a complete disaster

chmbana wrote on May 19, 2012 at 11:05 pm

To be fair (which isn't a popular idea on these boards many times), Champaign County's "weight" in the vote was only about 18%, not statistically much more significant than McLean, Macon, Sangamon, and the metro east Counties (all with a weighted vote 12-16%).  This isn't Johnson's traditional Champaign-heavy district of the last few decades.  It's a new ballgame.  Also, the two "Champaign County" candidates hadn't actually lived or worked in Champaign County in years. 

Political Observer wrote on May 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Regarding the claim by Chmbana:

‘Also, the two "Champaign County" candidates hadn't actually lived or worked in Champaign County in years.’

Sorry, you’re way off-base on that claim, Chmbana. Jerry Clarke and his family have continued to live (since 2007) in the same house in Urbana that Tim Johnson declared capital gains on, in his 2007 Congressional financial disclosure papers (which would seem to suggest that Johnson sold the Clarke family the house in 2007).

Clarke’s residence in Urbana is no big secret, either, as the local media from time to time mention that he “remains a resident of Urbana despite working for Wheaton-based Congressman Randy Hultgren.”