Candidate clear, but law is not

Let's have no repeats of the election fiasco in the circuit clerk's race.

Champaign County Republicans finally have their candidate for circuit clerk.

But neither citizens in Champaign County nor in any of Illinois' other 101 counties have a definitive answer as to the legal proper steps if there is a repeat of the circumstances that occurred in the March 20 primary election.

So while we congratulate local Republicans for sorting out their problem, we urge County Clerk Gordy Hulten and State's Attorney Julia Rietz to seek an advisory opinion on this issue from the attorney general's office.

A more effective solution would be for local legislators to amend the state election code to provide specific guidance to local election officials on the proper action to take.

The bottom line, however, is that this is all Rick Winkel's fault. He announced his candidacy for circuit clerk and then, after it was too late to take his name off the ballot, dropped out of the campaign. Perhaps that was unavoidable, but there's no minimizing the problem it caused.

Confusion was compounded when Winkel, a former state senator, narrowly defeated Stephanie Holderfield in the GOP primary.

State officials urged county clerk Hulten to ignore votes for Winkel and declare Holderfield the winner. Hulten, acting on contrary advice from state's attorney Rietz, recognized Winkel as the winner and left it to GOP precinct committeemen to choose their candidate.

The committeemen selected Katie Blakeman over Holderfield, and Holderfield has graciously accepted that choice.

"Katie is going to make a great circuit clerk," Holderfield said.

Blakeman will face Democrat Barbara Wysocki in the November election. Both have solid credentials, so the public should be well served whatever the outcome.

But the public is not well served if the current confusion is not ended. These are rare events. But when they happen, the law must clarify, not further confuse, the situation.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

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Dann001 wrote on April 20, 2012 at 1:04 am

Three cheers to the News Gazette for finally saying what we all new. Rick Winkel engaged in a game of "Bait & Switch" politics! He never intended to take the job of Circuit Clerk! This is an interesting new tactic the "Republican Guard" has come up with in Illinois. Tim Johnson is on board with this new idea, obviously! I'm curious why this piece didn't mention him? I guess the NG is working their way up to getting the nerve to take that subject on? He does have a lot of power! If this tactic is not stopped by legislature very soon, it will spread lika a wild fire! 

rsp wrote on April 20, 2012 at 3:04 am

It's going on all over the country by both parties.

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 20, 2012 at 11:04 am

Your right.  Both parties have blame for diminishing democracy in favor of their self interests. Look at the nation's budget.  Both parties put forward budgets that they knew the other party would not agree with in an election year.  Of course the last time they did it, the nation's credit rating took a hit.  Rather have a sister in a bordello than a brother in politics.