Dems again have their man
UI researcher set to challenge Hulten this fall
CHAMPAIGN — Champaign County Democrats on Sunday night named Scott Hays of rural Mahomet as their new candidate for county clerk.
Hays, a researcher at the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, was unable to attend the meeting but intends to officially file his candidacy papers at noon Wednesday, according to Al Klein, chairman of the local Democratic Party.
Wednesday is the last day for political parties to nominate a replacement candidate for a county office in the Nov. 4 election.
Hays becomes the candidate — a little more than two months before Election Day — after Champaign Democrat Wayne Williams withdrew his name from the ballot Friday. Williams had been slated to the position last spring after no Democrat ran for the office in the March primary. County Clerk Gordy Hulten is the Republican candidate.
Williams put Hays' name into nomination at Sunday's meeting at the Democratic Party headquarters in Champaign, explaining he is unable to run because of time constraints.
"I really had intended to take some time off from all of this," he said. "But we had this (primary) election, we observed some problems and I thought it was important for us to have a candidate to address the problems that we saw in the last election, specifically Gordy's mishandling of the election.
"I fully intended to run, and it's very tough for me to be here today having to withdraw my nomination."
Williams said he is in the final stages of completing a master's degree in accountancy and soon will begin to take his CPA exams.
"It became pretty clear to me that I could not accomplish these personal and professional goals, and run the campaign for county clerk that the voters of this county deserve," Williams said. "I believe this campaign is bigger than any one person. I ran for a reason and that reason is to address what happened in that election.
"I've spoken with Scott Hays and I know he's willing to give this campaign the attention that it deserves, to bring out the issues that happened and hopefully get some answers from our incumbent county clerk."
Democrats have been pushing hard to find a candidate to oppose Hulten, who has acknowledged mistakes were made in the counting of some votes for some Democratic candidates in uncontested races in the March primary.
There also were inconsistencies in the reporting of the official election results in uncontested races, both on the Democratic and Republican sides, as well as the labeling of a Republican appellate court justice candidate, Lisa Holder White, as a candidate for circuit court. In that case, Hulten said he used coding provided by the state Board of Elections.
The other problematic results include an issue in the Cunningham 14 precinct in Urbana, where the official results state that 243 Democratic votes were cast, but where there were 244 votes in the precinct committeeman race. There was a similar issue in the city of Champaign 34 precinct, where 229 Republican ballots were cast but there were 243 votes in the precinct committeeman contest.
"The clerk has dropped the ball," Klein said, "and that's intolerable because if your vote isn't going to be counted correctly, that includes undervotes which are votes, then what are we doing?"
In Hulten, Hays will be facing an incumbent with high name recognition and a campaign fund with more than $12,000 on hand.
WDWS reporter Scott Beatty contributed to this report.