GOP leaders will address vacancy

GOP leaders will address vacancy

FAIRBURY — Republican leaders in five central Illinois counties will meet Sunday in Fairbury to begin developing a plan to replace state Rep. Josh Harms, R-Watseka, on the November general election ballot.

Harms, a freshman lawmaker, announced earlier this week that he was pulling out of the 106th House District race against Democrat William Nutter for unspecified family reasons.

His formal withdrawal from the race was filed Wednesday with the State Board of Elections.

"We are meeting briefly Sunday and at that point we'll set the schedule," said John McGlasson, chairman of the Livingston County Republican Party. "I was elected chairman of the replacement committee and Mike Marron of Vermilion County was elected secretary. We got out that of the way in a conference call."

The GOP chairmen in the five counties — Vermilion, Ford, Iroquois, Livingston and Woodford — have until late August to choose a candidate to replace Harms.

McGlasson said he believes there are at least five Republicans who are interested in the seat, including former state Sen. Shane Cultra of Onarga; Parkland College Trustee Tom Bennett of Gibson City; Harms' legislative aide, Susan Wynn Bence of Watseka; Livingston County Farm Bureau President Jason Bunting of rural Cabery; and Tim Ruestman, the Woodford County coroner.

McGlasson said he hopes to open the process to more candidates, including allowing candidates to fill out applications online.

"There'll be nobody, unless their head's under a rock, that won't know what's going on. That's our intention," he said.

But McGlasson said he doubts the interviews with the candidates will be open to the public.

"There will be some, to be honest with you, who won't be interviewed. We'll probably take a list, hone it down and then interview the finalists," he said. "Rather than embarrass people, we'll probably release just the list of the people who are interviewed."

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