U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis said he hopes the furor over an ugly email criticizing his primary election opponent doesn't hurt him politically, but at least one area county chairman believes it will.
Asked if the email by former Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Jim Allen — written about Davis challenger Erika Harold of Urbana — would damage his re-election effort, Davis said Thursday, "I sure hope it doesn't because this is something that is out of my control. I'm just as disappointed as everyone else."
But John Parrott, chairman of the Republican Party in McLean County, said that based on online comments he had read, he thinks the controversy will hound the first-term congressman from Taylorville.
"It's unfair that this chairman did that to him," Parrott said of Allen's email message to the publisher of the Republican News Watch. "But in reading some of the comments on newspaper articles, people said they were definitely going to vote for Erika and that they will be against Rodney. But it's early. He has a lot of time to make it up."
Until Wednesday afternoon, Allen had been listed on Davis' campaign website as a supporter and a member of his "Team 2014."
"There are no excuses for his behavior and I'm not making any," Davis said of Allen's comments about Harold. "I sure hope it doesn't affect my campaign. I would hope that every single voter out there who knows me knows that these are comments that would never come from me. These are comments that I don't condone. These are comments that offend me as a father, and I hope they know me better than that."
Davis won election to the 13th Congressional District seat last November by less than 1 percent in a three-way race with Democrat David Gill and independent John Hartman.
"This is not an issue anybody running a campaign wants to address, somebody who is a supporter making inane and asinine comments like this," Davis told reporters Thursday morning in a conference call.
He referred to a recent poll that found that he led Harold 54 percent to 16 percent among likely Republican voters, and that more than 61 percent of those polled said they had never heard of Harold.
"Recent polling done showed us in a very good position to continue to win his seat," Davis said. "Remember we beat the Obama wave (in 2012). We were the only targeted seat in Illinois that was drawn for Democrats (that elected) a Republican. It was a close race. We know we're a targeted race and we're going to continue to spread our message and continue to do what the voters sent me to do."
Davis said he was on the House floor, "working on the farm bill," when he learned of the furor over Allen's email.
"I pulled my phone off the charger later in the day and I see a whirlwind of emails and discussion on this issue. I'm out here knowing I've got to be on the floor debating farm bill amendments until late into the evening," he said. "It's very disappointing to me, out of my control and ... there are no excuses for his behavior."