Some Republicans say 13th primary will hurt party

Some Republicans say 13th primary will hurt party

Some Republicans are worried that Erika Harold's decision to challenge Rep. Rodney Davis next year could hurt the party and its chances to retain the 13th Congressional District seat.

"Having just gone through my own primary, I'm not a big fan of primary elections," said state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, a Davis supporter.

Rose spent more than $260,000 last year winning a Republican primary for his Senate seat against Tom Pliura, a lawyer from rural Ellsworth.

"I would hope that (Harold) would run for lieutenant governor," he said. "I think that would project her into the political stratosphere. Primaries are enormously destructive forces. The Republican Party ought to be big enough for both of these people. They're both talented people."

Rep. Adam Brown, R-Champaign, another Davis supporter, said he was "shocked" that Harold had decided to take on Davis, who has almost $335,000 in his campaign fund.

"I've been a strong support of Rodney. He's a good friend of mine," said Brown. "In fact he ran the victory center (a coordinated call center) when I was running for state rep, so I've known for several years and worked with him very closely.

"We had heard rumors, rumblings about this, but I didn't expect this to turn out the way it has. I think it's going to be a difficult situation for loyal party folks, especially here in Champaign County."

Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, said "I don't understand why" Harold is challenging Davis.

"Rodney's done exactly what I asked him to do, and that was to go to Washington and be his own man and make his own decisions and represent his constituents, and I think he's done that," McCarter said. "Someone like Erika, with as much promise as she has in the Republican Party, why target a young congressman who has done what we asked him to do? People were concerned that he was going to be a puppet of (Rep.) John Shimkus. But he hasn't done that. He's been his own man."

McCarter said he was concerned that former staffers to retired U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, including Mark Shelden and Joan Dykstra, were helping Harold.

"I think they're using her for revenge and that's sad because she has tremendous promise in this party, and how dare they use her leadership abilities and persona. She's just the kind of person that our party needs," McCarter said. "I'm a little shocked that a few disgruntled ex-party people would use her to advance their own careers."

Rose, Brown and McCarter said they would stand by Davis.

"He's our sitting congressman, he's a good friend of mine and I support what he's done while he's been in Congress this short time," Brown added.

Harold, however, said she was focused on Congress and didn't want to run for any office.

"When I was thinking about running for public office, I was thinking, where is an arena in which I could actually make a difference, looking both at the interests that I think I could be a strong advocate for, and also looking at the balance of power, to see where I could actually affect change and advance legislation," she said.

She said she didn't believe she could run for a state legislative office "and affect the kind of change that I wanted to affect.

"My heart really was in this (congressional) district. I sought this seat last time because it's something that I had thought about for quite some time. It wasn't a whim. When I thought about where I would like to serve, it had always been in this area."

She said she didn't give much consideration to running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Sen. Dick Durbin.

"There were a lot of people who suggested a wide variety of potential offices, including the United States Senate. But I think you can't be flattered into running for something that might be beyond what you can conceivably do as a first-time candidate," Harold said. "I think that running for political office, especially if you're sort of a political outsider, there's a steep learning curve. I didn't think that running for the United States Senate — being someone who is not a self-funder — would be a good idea."

Asked if people had tried to dissuade her from running against Davis, Harold said she found a way to avoid the discussion.

"I think there were some people who might have wished I had run for something else, but my strategy for handling it is a I kept my phone on vibrate or silence most of the time," she said. "I decided that once I had made a decision I really don't want to engage in those kind of conversations at this point in time."

She said she believed the primary election campaign would be "really healthy for our party."

McLean County Republican Chairman John Parrott — who won't take sides in the primary — agreed with Harold.

"A lot of people think an incumbent ought to be protected, but I believe primaries are good for the party," he said.

He said Harold "has a lot of ability to reach out to voters that might not be Republicans, and bring them into the tent for the Republican Party," but added "that this is an opportunity to put two qualified people on the playing field."

The Davis campaign issued a brief statement about Harold's candidacy.

"Throughout my first 150 days in Congress, I've lived up to the promises I made to the families of the 13th District. In just five months I've voted to cut government spending and address the national debt while advancing legislation to put Americans back to work and get our economy moving again," he said. "It's unfortunate that in today's political environment campaigns never end, but my focus has been and will continue to be on working hard in Washington and in Illinois for the families of Champaign County and the rest of the 13th District."

Champaign County Republican Party Chairman Habeeb Habeeb, who is out of the country, issued a statement that took no side.

"We have run four positive countywide campaigns last year and won all four. My desire from both camps would be to run a positive campaign, and I think they will," he said.

The Davis campaign also issued statements from two supporters, former Gov. Jim Edgar and U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Manteno.

"You won't find a more passionate and effective advocate for the residents of central and southwest Illinois than Rodney Davis. In the short time he's been in office, he's proven that can put politics aside to get things done and make a difference in Washington," said Edgar.

"After just 150 days in Congress, Rodney has been true to his word — voting to rein in excessive spending and working tirelessly to put Americans back to work. Rodney is a terrific public servant, and the families of the 13th district know they can count on him to be their voice in Washington," Kinzinger said.

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C in Champaign wrote on June 05, 2013 at 8:06 am

Veruca Salt... "Don't care how, want it now! Don't care how, want it NOOOOWWWWW..." (As she plummets down the bad egg chute.)

jdmac44 wrote on June 05, 2013 at 8:06 am

I was thinking this morning, "Why not do something useful and run against Dick Durbin?"  Yeah, fat chance, but hey, she is African American, she is a woman, she's spent some time in Chicago...  Of course it would take something tremendous to make her change her decision after she's announced, it's usually considered a big political no-no.  Oh well.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on June 05, 2013 at 10:06 am

"Having just gone through my own primary, I'm not a big fan of primary elections," said state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, a Davis supporter.

Ya. Let the smart people, in newly smoke free back rooms make the important decisions like this. The rubes and hicks don't know what's good for them. Let the party apparatus tell them who the party approved candidate is and then they can have their chance to participate in the process and vote for the person the party elders told them to vote for. Then they can go back to shutting up and letting the smart people in the party make all the important decisions.

Vote GOP -- we'll make all the really hard decisions and keep things simple for you, you stupid hicks. Now, shut up and vote for who we say!!!!!!!

fflkommish wrote on June 05, 2013 at 12:06 pm

She is taking on an incumbent - yes.  But Davis didn't win a primary...he was selected by party county chairmen.  If Johnson would have retired in a timely manner, we could have had this primary 2 years ago.

Elected officials very seldom turn against fellow members of the club, even when it seems they obviously should (remember Arlen Specter).

kyedpa5 wrote on June 05, 2013 at 2:06 pm

The fact that this is upsetting the establishment is EXACTLY why Harold will probably win.  Don't these politicians understand that this is a democracy and it doesn't matter if they support or oppose someone because WE THE PEOPLE have the say?!  

Its pathetic that Rodney Davis' statement essentially called democracy "unfortunate."

GOP Dance Party wrote on June 05, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Exactly at what point did Tim Johnson, Mark Shelden and Joan Dykstra become not "The Party Establishment"?

Tim Johnson has run Champaign County politics forever, he is the definition of establishment.

This is a bunch of sore losers who want to pick a fight for no good reason and to show they are only interested in slice-them-up-politics, they're already out there asking for Rodney to step down and let Erika have a free reign.

johnny wrote on June 06, 2013 at 4:06 am

If Erika is wise--we know she's smart--she'll run like hell away from those three.

kyedpa5 wrote on June 06, 2013 at 12:06 pm

As you may recall, during the appointment process last year to select the GOP nominee the only candidate Johnson was openly supportive of was Harold and explicitly said that he felt Davis should not be considered because of his ties to Shimkus.  How exactly does he represent the GOP machine if he can't even get the party chairs to select the candidate he chose or AT LEAST not select the candidate he clearly stated should not be considered?!   

GOP Dance Party wrote on June 06, 2013 at 1:06 pm

There isn't *a* GOP machine, there are plenty of people with their own feifdoms.  Let's just not pretend that Erika is some outsider when party insiders pushed her last year in the appointment and are pushing her again this year because they didn't get their way last time.

Let's be honest that there would have been NO appointment if Tim Johnson didn't plan his strategy to win the primary and step down so he can hand-pick his successor (and oddly, that person was Erika).

C in Champaign wrote on June 05, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Actually, Davis was selected because the rest of the district, that part outside of Champaign county, didn't want to be dominated by a candidate from Champaign, so they pushed for a candidate from their neck of the woods. While it is correct that there was no primary, Davis was selected by elected representatives of the party from the entire district, not just Chapmpaign. I wouldn't count Erika out, she will be popular at this end of the 13th, but I wouldn't even think to say she will "probably" win.

jlc wrote on June 05, 2013 at 2:06 pm

"I think it's going to be a difficult situation for loyal party folks, especially here in Champaign County.""

In other words, GOP voters should have to shut up and take the candidate who's been hand-picked for them.

Not to say that a primary battle won't be a drain on both candidate's finances, but the response by the rest of the Republican reps in the article is pretty narrow-minded and party-focused rather than people-focused.

kyedpa5 wrote on June 05, 2013 at 2:06 pm

They are absolutely shooting themselves in the foot!  Everyone should have just taken a note from Habeeb and kept their mouths.  They just gave her so much electoral fuel by criticizing... ya know, THE DEMOCRATIC ELECTORAL PROCESS!

wayward wrote on June 05, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Habeeb is a smart guy and said the right thing.  Of course, I'm not sure that a primary between those two would actually stay positive, but that doesn't matter.

sweet caroline wrote on June 05, 2013 at 3:06 pm

This is going to be a disaster.  I'm a proud conservative, and I know and like both Erika and Rodney a lot.  I don't think this is a smart move on Erika's part.  Rodney is doing a great job this early in his first term.  Erika brings a fresh face, new ideas, and intelligence (she graduated from Harvard Law School, for goodness sake).  I wish, though, that she would run against a democrat instead of against Rodney.  If she loses the primary to Rodney, it won't fare well for her in the future. 

wayward wrote on June 05, 2013 at 3:06 pm

The Dems' reaction:

sweet caroline wrote on June 05, 2013 at 4:06 pm

That's hilarious, Wayward!

chambana visionary wrote on June 05, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Every report on what the Republican Party needs to do to win says more minorities, more women, young and energetic candidatess that young adults can relate to. We have a historic opportunity with a once-in-a-lifetime candidate in Erika Harold. She immediately commands a national media spotlight. She's dynamic, bright and articulate, and she is the exact spokesperson we need to sway voters.

This is an opportunity that the Illinois Republican Party needs to grab on to to move forward. The absolute worst thing is that a bunch of money gets wasted in a needless divisive primary when the better candidate both for the district and the party is staring at us in the face.

Erika needs to focus on beating the Democrats in November and a wasteful primary to come to the foregone conclusion we all know isn't what needs to happen.  We NEED Erika in Washington.

Rodney is a decent enough guy, but he needs to put what's best for the party above his own selfish interests. Rodney should immediately announce he isn't going to run for election so as not to be a speedbump for Erika's meteoric rise in politics. Rodney, do they right thing for the party and the nation, step aside so Erika can run without a needless primary.

johnny wrote on June 06, 2013 at 4:06 am

Best satire I've ever read.

sweet caroline wrote on June 05, 2013 at 7:06 pm might have a point, Chambana Visionary.  I hadn't seen it this way before.  Erika could draw interest and votes from women, young people, and possibly minorities, although really I don't consider her a minority.  She is mostly Anglo-Saxon in heritage.  She's sharp, though, and easy to listen to.  She has new ideas for to solve old problems.

jthartke wrote on June 05, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I wonder when being a successful Congressman came down to just casting your vote.  I thought it might have something to do with actually passing important, relevant legislation, finding a way to work with your peers to get something done, or at least bringing much needed projects to the community you stand for.

I guess casting 37 failed, futile votes to repeal AHCA is enough for some.

Nice Davis wrote on June 05, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Yeah, I'm with you. I appreciate that Davis cleared the low bar of "don't be an embarrassment" set by recent GOP freshmen such as Joe Walsh and Allen West, but I couldn't tell you what positive change he has really effected in Washington since he got there.

Mind you, this isn't a criticism. I probably fall out on the side of being grateful to not have a congressperson, Republican or Democrat, who tries to shake things up in their first term. I definitely believe you have to pay your dues, build relationships, etc. That said, I am very skeptical of any characterizations of his service as anything more impressive than mere caretaking and toeing of the party line.

C in Champaign wrote on June 06, 2013 at 8:06 am

I wonder when it became an expectation that a person, in his or her first 150 days or so in office, would be expected to make a name for themselves, or as you suggest, bring back the pork for the district.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on June 06, 2013 at 1:06 am
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My comments keep getting deleted. And yet, these comments portray, as far as I can tell, reasonbly accurate characterizations about the candidate and her support base.


The's moderation seems pretty lenient most of the time.  So I'm wondering ....

EL YATIRI wrote on June 06, 2013 at 5:06 am
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The NG deletes whatever it wants Rob.  Your comments just have to run contrary to what they want seen, nothing to do with appropriateness or profanity.  Welcome to the club.

wayward wrote on June 06, 2013 at 8:06 am

Yeah, the moderation seems kind of random sometimes.  I wonder if they just blow away posts if anyone complains about them.

EL YATIRI wrote on June 06, 2013 at 7:06 am
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How predictable; the party faithful don't want Erika to run and upset their hand-picked puppet.

As an independent voter I support her. But, oh yeah, I forgot that the GOP is more interested in pandering to "their base" than attracting independents.

And the Dems are just as bad.  We have 2 corrupt gangs and their bosses who decide elections.  Which is why so many citizens don't bother to participate in this sham democracy.

GOP Dance Party wrote on June 06, 2013 at 10:06 am

Um, when did Mark Shelden, Joan Dykstra and Tim Johnson cease to be "the party faithful"?

As much as someone might like to say Davis wasn't elected in a primary, he was elected by the voters of the 13th district at large, Erika was just as much a part of that appointment process as Rodney and simply fell short because not enough party faithful backed her.

And let's not forget, it was Tim Johnson who was caught red-handed trying to pick his successor outside the primary process in the first place. He didn't get his way then, so he's trying to get his way now.

EL YATIRI wrote on June 07, 2013 at 4:06 am
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Why aren't we talking about Erika's ideas and positions on the important issues our country faces?  Instead all I hear is immature shouting about petty politics. 


bluegrass wrote on June 07, 2013 at 9:06 am

Because save one or two, it's mostly democrats commenting.

Sid Saltfork wrote on June 07, 2013 at 11:06 am

I like the idea of ex-Miss America defeating Davis in the primary.  It would be a great move for the GOP that has been critized for not being inclusive to women, and others.  Media covered debates between the two of them on issues such as foriegn affairs, domestic economics, gun rights, religious expression, same sex marriage, and ethics would go a long way to define them.  This is great news for a failed party. It would bring in big bucks for media sales also.

Who would the News Gazette endorse?

mark taylor's ghost wrote on June 07, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Exactly what are you basing that claim on?

Sid Saltfork wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm

The previous elections.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I was talking to bluegrass.

Sid Saltfork wrote on June 07, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Reply to his comments; not mine.  Use the comment section correctly to avoid confusion.  You should know how to do it by now.

GeneralLeePeeved wrote on June 07, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Based on how it looked on my screen, Sid, Ghost was replying to Bluegrass and not you.  Again, just based on my screen, his comment was directly below yours and lined up with it and, like yours, was indented from Bluegrass's comment.....making it a comment toward Bluegrass and not you......but again, that's how it looks on my screen.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on June 07, 2013 at 2:06 pm

That's how it looks because that's how it is. Sid is making an accusation that everyone can see is false. Welcome to my world. (Don't expect him to retract it just because it's demonstrably false though.)

EL YATIRI wrote on June 09, 2013 at 5:06 am
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Sid: follow your own advice

Sid Saltfork wrote on June 10, 2013 at 11:06 am

Cute little mouse.  Thanks for piling on with the hate.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on June 10, 2013 at 5:06 pm

No acknowledgement that he made a false accusation. No retraction of the false accusation. And, of course, no apology for making the false accusation. Just self pity, an enlarged sense of victimhood, and a personal attack.

Wait now for him to respond with a substance free comment full of personal insults and high dudgeon that anyone dare criticize Sidney du Saltfork for insulting me due to his confusion over how to properly read online comments.

Sid Saltfork wrote on June 10, 2013 at 7:06 pm

When did you ever make a retraction?  When did you ever not insult others who disagree with you?  Your looking for a fan club.  Naw, I don't apologize to those who I do not respect.  Stick with the imitation Steven Colbert act.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on June 10, 2013 at 9:06 pm

When have I made a false accusation? You have a long and documented history of doing so. This petty and banal instance is just the latest low light.

I don't expect you to acknowledge your false accusations, let alone apologize for them. We all decide for ourselves who is worthy of respect.

It's just that most of us respect ourselves enough that we would be too embarrassed not to admit we were wrong. The fact that you don't appear to care enough about how others see you to even acknowledge your mistake says more about you than anyone else ever could.

But go ahead and respond with more personal insults. We all can see that's all you've got.

Sid Saltfork wrote on June 10, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Again with the "we"?  Yes, "you" desperately want a fan club.  "You" are the target of my insults just as "I" am the target of yours.  This is childish.  Unless it is "you", Mark Taylor, Mark Taylor's Ghost, and the imitation Steven Colbert; there is no "we". 

"We" do not need to waste comment space, and time on "our" dislike for each other. Let "us" avoid each other.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on June 10, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Just who do you believe started this exchange, Sidney?

But sure, you stop insulting me and making false accusations and I'll stop responding to your insults and false accusations.


bluegrass wrote on June 07, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Sid - um.. nevermind.

mark taylor's ghost - You know, you're right I can't say for sure.  I don't have any concrete evidence upon which to base my claim.  Maybe we could get some help from our good friends at the IRS and the NSA to help us figure it out though.  Maybe get the DOJ to wire tap some of the News Gazette reporters, or ask the NSA to break into the online database, put some names to alias and really get to the bottom of this.  Or you could just go back through the comments and read them yourself.  Either way.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on June 07, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Great to see you're being consistent. We all remember how vociferously you protested when Bush & Cheney did the same things.

And I did read the comments. I just wondered how you are able to ascertain that most of the other commenters are Democrats.

EL YATIRI wrote on June 09, 2013 at 5:06 am
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The point is that both parties pull the same stunts on our civil liberties.  When the dems do it the repubs howl.  When the repubs do it they approve. And vice versa. So in their own warped way they are being perfectly consistent and predictable.

Both parties are pretty much the same and they contest elections because it is so lucrative to be elected.  Both are equally corrupt, I don't buy the argument that the dems are the lesser of the evils. Once elected they forget their campaign promises which have become empty and meaningless. They say what they think will get them elected.  Once in office, they do the same as the other party did and even worse.

When a third party crops up both gangs attack, doesn't matter if they are progressive or conservative.  Just remember how the dems reacted to Ralph Nader and how the repubs treated the Ron Paul supporters at their convention.

mark taylor's ghost wrote on June 09, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Very valid points but there is a practical difference that has real effect in the lives of real people.

immto wrote on June 07, 2013 at 9:06 pm

The way the choice was taken away from voters in the 13th is a crime.  When Mr. Johnson decided to retire, there should have been a special primary to fill the spot.  Rodney's installation was nothing more than a way to cheat the voters out of a choice.  


Political Observer wrote on June 20, 2013 at 4:06 pm

There's some interesting comments about some of the quotes in this article over at


Within 24 hours of Harold’s announcement last week, no-accomplishment white males like State Senators Chapin Rose and Kyle McCarter, and State Representative Adam Brown were publicly bashing Harold’s decision to take on a sitting Republican. Why anyone would care what these guys think I have no idea. I stopped taking Chapin Rose seriously when as a state representative back in 2010 he voted against what should have been an historic advance in school reform. Adam Brown is a 20-something kid who made a fool of himself a couple of years ago pandering to geographic resentment (and citizen ignorance) by pushing the ridiculous idea of splitting Illinois into two. And I’m not sure what Kyle McCarter is known for beyond angry outbursts. Also, all three recently voted against serious pension reform (SB 1; Senate vote; House vote). They’re the types who after voting against positive change then like to sit around whining about the Democrats and badmouthing our state. All on our dime of course.

If people like Rose, McCarter, and Brown want to change Illinois law from a primary system to a coronation process, as lawmakers they can draft and introduce the bill. Obviously they aren’t going to do that. They and some others are just going to try and make it difficult for the best ambassador the Illinois GOP could wish for to get any traction.

This criticism of someone stepping-up in a primary is absurd. If anything, I wish we had three more Erika Harolds to take on non-performers like Rose, McCarter and Brown.


Excerpt above from:

(Many more interesting comments, as well.)