URBANA — State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, and Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing said Tuesday they're supporting Champaign attorney Sam Rosenberg in the 103rd House District Democratic primary election.
Rosenberg faces Urbana City Council member Carol Ammons in the March 18 primary. The winner in that race will oppose Republican Kristin Williamson of Urbana for the right to succeed Jakobsson as state representative in the district that includes almost all of Champaign-Urbana.
Prussing and Jakobsson, along with Champaign Mayor Don Gerard, are scheduled to formally endorse Rosenberg at a news conference Wednesday morning in Urbana.
The announcement is a major blow to Ammons, for whom Prussing passed candidacy petitions last fall.
"I did say I was going to stay out of (the race) but I did collect signatures for her," Prussing said Tuesday.
She said she had called Ammons to tell her she would not be supporting her.
Prussing said there was no particular issue that led to her decision to back Rosenberg over Ammons.
"I think she's got a lot of talent but some of her actions on the county board and on the city council have been done very quickly, without really thinking things through. I think that is a real problem," Prussing said. "And I think you can sort of tell by the endorsements she's gotten. A lot of the people who work with her, although they like her and respect her, they're just not confident that she's the best person for this job.
"I think that's a pretty strong indicator. It's just not about what you say in a campaign, but it's also what is your actual record and how do you treat people. I think Carol had a lot of good qualities and I do wish the best for her but I'm just not convinced that she's the best candidate for the job at this point."
Asked if part of her objection to Ammons was about her push for a task force to study allegations of racial profiling by Urbana police, Prussing said, "That was one of them but I think on several occasions she has jumped to conclusions and started attacking people without really having the facts.
"You need someone who is going to take a much more balanced and measured approach. When you get into Springfield, there's this argument that because she has experience on the city council and county board that she's going to be able to hit the ground running. I don't think that applies because you have to look at what her experience actually was."
Prussing said she originally "thought I would support her because I thought she had the experience but then I've had more experience trying to work with her and we've had some pretty rough patches. That's what concerns me. It's not that she's not bright or that she's not energetic, but I've seen her in action and she tends to jump to conclusions. I just sort of think that he's going to have the better approach."
Asked if her endorsement was more anti-Ammons than pro-Rosenberg, Prussing said, "You don't get perfection. You've got to choose the person who is best qualified at this point and I would say that for me it's Sam Rosenberg.
"But nobody's going to have easy going. We are really losing a lot when we lose Naomi Jakobsson because it takes a long time to establish yourself with the other legislators. I think it really requires respect for other people who you don't agree with. You have to look for areas where you will agree with them. That's the key to success in the Legislature."
Jakobsson, who has been in the Illinois House since January 2003, confirmed Tuesday that she would endorse Rosenberg but didn't want to say much more.
"There are a number of reasons and I want to be more specific (Wednesday)," Jakobsson said. Her husband Eric, who serves on the city council with Ammons, already has endorsed Rosenberg, as has Gerard.