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.