Tom Kacich: County clerk race gets more interesting

Tom Kacich: County clerk race gets more interesting

Last week's announcement by Jon Rector that he would challenge Matt Grandone in the Republican race for Champaign County clerk next spring surprised some people because it had been assumed Grandone had a clear path to the nomination. He announced before Labor Day, and Rector waited about eight weeks — until about a month before the candidate filing period begins — to enter the race.

"This isn't a game of dibs," said Mark Shelden, the Republican county recorder, former county clerk and chairman of Rector's campaign. "This is about what's best for the county clerk's office."

Shelden had been searching for someone to run against Grandone, but said it was nothing personal nor was it a sign that he was challenging Gordy Hulten, the current county clerk who is backing Grandone to be his successor. Hulten is running to become the county's first elected county executive, and so far he is the only Republican contender.

"Last Saturday, I was up at a Republican breakfast in Rantoul, and I let everybody know how important I thought it is for Gordy to be elected county executive," Shelden said. "We have two really, really important races to get covered here, and I think Jon Rector is our best chance to win the county clerk's seat. And Gordy is obviously our guy for county executive, and we've got to get the both elected."

He said he didn't think there'd be a divide in the party because of the primary.

"It's a disagreement on who people think is the best candidate for whatever," Shelden said. "Two years ago, I was for Brad Halbrook (for state representative in the 102nd House District) and Gordy and others were for Jim Acklin, and we had a race and we worked together afterward. It's the normal thing that happens. There were people around here who were for Bill Brady over Tim Johnson (for Congress) 17 years ago. This is just kinda what happens.

"Having primaries is not a problem. Failing to get together afterward is a problem, and I don't think that's going to be a problem here."

The biggest beneficiary of a split among the Republicans could be Democratic candidate Aaron Ammons of Urbana, who is unopposed.

Hulten said he hoped the GOP wouldn't be divided.

"I think competition is heathy," he said. "I don't know that it's a bad sign or a good sign in terms of the party. I think we've got two candidates who are going to make the case to the voters for why they think they're the most qualified candidate for the office. I'm supporting Matt Grandone because I think he has the qualifications that are needed to be the next county clerk."

Grandone has worked in the clerk's office for three years as its director of training. Rector works at BPC in Champaign as an implementation specialist in sales.

Grandone already has picked up a pile of Republican endorsements including Hulten, Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen, County Auditor John Farney and five of the 10 county board Republicans.

Hulten said he hopes the clerk's race "stays positive and that we focus on the issues and the qualifications of the candidate for office and that we don't spend a lot of time talking about what the other candidate's going to do or what their background is. As long as we have a good, positive, issues-oriented campaign, there's no reason this has to create lingering bad feelings."

Democratic gubernatorial forum

Four of the Democratic candidates for governor — Daniel Biss, Chris Kennedy, Bob Daiber and Tio Hardiman — have agreed to attend a candidate forum sponsored by the Illini Democrats at 6 p.m. Nov. 6 in 112 Gregory Hall on the University of Illinois campus. The event is free and open to the public. More information is available on the Illini Democrats Facebook page.

Negative message about Gill

An assessment of the four-way race for the Democratic nomination in Illinois' 13th Congressional District on the influential Daily Kos blog site was exactly what candidate David Gill didn't want to read.

The Bloomington physician, who is running for Congress for the fifth time (not counting an aborted effort last year), has been disputing the narrative that he's a perennial candidate.

But there it was in the Daily Kos elections digest: "Meanwhile, perennial candidate David Gill raised only $23,000, and he had just $4,000 left over. Gill, who had run several times in the past, beat the favored candidate of the Democratic establishment in the 2012 primary, but he only lost the open seat race to Davis 47-46. Gill tried to run here as an independent in 2014, but he failed to make the ballot."

The report also noted that incumbent Republican Rodney Davis of Taylorville "is a strong fundraiser" and that he had more than $1 million in his campaign fund on Sept. 30.

Veto of Frerichs' bill overridden in House

One of several veto overrides in the Legislature last week was on state Treasurer Mike Frerichs' bill to require life insurance companies to compare records of policies in force since 2000 with the Social Security Administration's death master file to assess whether survivors were owed money.

The House voted 71-40 to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of the measure promoted by the Champaign Democrat.

That was a gain of six votes from the original House vote on the bill in May. This time, seven Republicans crossed over to vote for the legislation, including Rep. Bill Mitchell of Forsyth.

The Senate still has to vote on the veto override to make it complete, but that shouldn't be a problem. It passed the first time in May with 36 votes, the number required for an override.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette reporter and columnist. His column appears Sundays and Wednesdays. He can be reached at 217-351-5221 or