Democrat drops from clerk race
CHAMPAIGN — Wayne Williams dropped out of the race to be the Democratic nominee for Champaign County clerk on Friday, leaving his party without a candidate in the race that county chairman Al Klein earlier had proclaimed was "job one."
From the time that Williams, of Champaign, was named the candidate in June there were persistent rumors that it was only temporary.
"At this time, he's the candidate," Klein said at the time. "I can't predict what will happen in the future. Jobs come and jobs go. But at this moment, he's the candidate."
On Friday, Klein announced that Williams had withdrawn after less than two months as the Democratic candidate to oppose incumbent Republican Gordy Hulten.
"This was always on the horizon," Klein said. "One man was wiling to step up and say I will do it now, before the opportunity escapes us. If no one had filed we would have no opportunity to give the voters the performance review that Gordy Hulten deserves."
In a statement Klein acknowledged that Williams' candidacy wasn't a certainty.
"However, Wayne was candid last spring, observing that his educational and personal obligations this fall might restrict his ability to conduct as vigorous a campaign as would be required," Klein continued. "Therefore, he has now decided to defer to another candidate who can devote more time to the campaign in the crucial weeks ahead."
The party's central committee is scheduled to meet Sunday night to select a new foe for Hulten, who already has not only a head start, an advantage in name recognition and a campaign fund with more than $12,000 on hand. Hulten spent more than $40,000 in his successful race in 2012.
One potential candidate is Scott Hays of Mahomet, who once ran for county board.
"This is going to require someone who can bear down and focus on this," said Klein, "and Scott would be one such person."
The deadline in Illinois to nominate a replacement candidate for a county office is Wednesday, Klein said.
Williams' withdrawal from the race for county clerk means that the Democratic Party has now has no candidate for any of the three countywide offices — sheriff, treasurer and clerk — on the ballot this fall.