URBANA — Republican congressional candidate Erika Harold said Monday the apology she received from a former GOP county chairman came by way of a text message.
Harold, an Urbana attorney challenging U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville in next year's 13th Congressional District race, was the subject of a racist and sexist email sent by Jim Allen, former head of the Montgomery County Republican Party and a supporter of Davis, to the publisher of the Web-based Republican News Watch.
In it Allen called Harold "the love child" of the Democratic National Committee, predicted she would lose to Davis and said that she would be "working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires." He said Harold "is being used like a street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO REPUBLICANS."
A day after the email was made public by Doug Ibendahl on his Republican News Watch website, Allen said he had apologized to Harold, her staff and her supporters.
But the apology was by text, Harold said.
"His text message said, 'I apologize to you and your supporters.' He did send that by text," Harold said. "It was very short. As I recall, he said I truly apologize to you, your campaign and your supporters. There might have been one other sentence, but it was very brief."
Asked if Allen had tried to call her, Harold said, "I don't know that he did."
Allen, who quit the party post two days after the email surfaced, did not respond to a request seeking comment.
She also said that she had not had contact with Davis, who had called the Allen email "wrong, appalling and incredibly demeaning."
Asked if she was disappointed with Allen's apology, she said, "I find that in politics it's best not to have expectations for other people. I had made a choice that I would forgive him, regardless of whether he apologized or not, just because that's what my faith compels me to do, and I think it's best on a personal level to make peace with things, regardless of whether the other person reaches out to you or not."
Meanwhile, another woman who sought the Republican nomination in the 13th District last year, Kathy Wassink, said Monday that she isn't planning on joining Harold and Davis in the 2014 primary.
"I've decided not to put my name in the race right now. Things can always change, but right now, I'm not," said Wassink, who lives in Shipman, in the southern part of the district.
She said she supported Davis in the November 2012 election after he was chosen to replace retired U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, on the ballot.
"Our 912 group (a tea party affiliate) assisted him when we were out knocking on doors," Wassink said.
For now, Wassink said she's uncommitted in the 2014 primary race.
"I'm not opposed to Rodney. I'm just waiting to see what the field shows," she said. "Right now, I'm just looking at both candidates and seeing what their platforms are. I'm just looking. I'm not supporting either one."
Harold said Monday that she has been encouraged by the reaction to Allen's email.
"My reaction to the email itself really wasn't political. I just thought it was a repugnant email," she said. "I didn't view it in the context of politics, because, at least for me, it seemed to transcend politics. I don't think that people's takeaway from the email had much to do with politics.
"But I was extremely encouraged by the number of emails I received from Republicans throughout the country, encouraging me to stay in the race. They were very heartfelt messages that the email does not reflect the principles and the values of our party. These were messages from people from Alabama and Oregon, and I lost count of how many emails and postings people made that were very heartfelt."
She said she also received messages from other Republican chairmen in the district who "were horrified by the email and just wanted to assure me that I'd be welcome within their counties. I think they were reaching out more on a personal level as opposed to politics.
"I also received a very nice message from one of the elected county officials in Montgomery County and had a great conversation with that person. That individual apologized on behalf of the county and said that the views in the email did not reflect the views in the county."
She called it "a very gracious and classy gesture for this person to reach out to me."
She declined to identify the official, saying "this person was reaching out more on a personal level and not as an endorsement or anything like that."
Harold said that when she first read of the email, she didn't believe it was authentic.
"When I first saw the email, someone sent it to me to see if I was aware of it. I actually didn't think it was real, that someone would have sent it. I went back to what I was doing," she said. "It wasn't until the story started to break across the wire, and I got interview requests from around the country that I realized that this was an authentic email that had actually been sent."
The story broke as the former Miss America and Harvard Law School graduate was preparing for a meeting in Washington of the board of Prison Ministries Fellowship, she said.
Harold thinks the furor will end up benefiting her campaign.
"I view the episode as being one in which a lot of Republicans stopped to think about what are the values of our party and reflected that back to me in their messages of support," she said. "It was very encouraging to feel that support from people who had never met me, but once they read the email, they went on to our website and learned a little bit more about me and now want to stay engaged in the campaign in some capacity."