Missed opportunity

It's hard not to think about what might have been.

Fourteen GOP county chairmen last weekend put an end to one of the more peculiar chapters in local political history when they chose Taylorville's Rodney Davis, an aide to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, to take the place of retiring U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson on the fall election ballot.

Suffice it to say, an appointment process leaves much to be desired when picking a party nominee for such an important public office. But it was unavoidable after Johnson's decision to not stand for re-election and retire from politics after he won the March 20 Republican Party primary election.

It's not unheard of for individuals like Johnson to have an untimely change of heart. Indeed, state law specifically contemplates such occurrences and establishes clear rules dictating how a ballot replacement will be selected.

Nonetheless, it's terrible that it happened the way it did, and Johnson's example is one that all candidates for public office — whether it's for the U.S. House of Representatives, county clerk or county board — should endeavor never to repeat.

So the race for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from the new 13th Congressional District is now set — it will be Davis against David Gill, a physician from Bloomington, making his fourth run for Congress.

Davis, no doubt, will be a solid candidate. But it's impossible to let this issue pass without expressing disappointment that the GOP chairmen did not select Erika Harold, the Urbana native who was chosen Miss America in 2003 and went on to graduate from the Harvard Law School.

Harold, who practices law in Chicago, would have been not just an outstanding candidate but the type of candidate who would draw widespread attention and political converts to the issues she supports. In our view, she is a political star in the making.

The question for Harold is what now?

She will return to her law practice, but it would be a shame if she did so to the exclusion of a future in politics. Indeed, it's our hope that the public will hear her name again soon, and the sooner the better. Further, it would be nice if she continues to view Champaign County as her political home turf, although that may be too much to ask.

Democrats have to be breathing a sigh of relief that the GOP chairmen overlooked Harold. But she's young — just 32 — and her future is bright and filled with possibilities.

We look forward to hearing more from her.

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ericbussell wrote on May 23, 2012 at 1:05 pm

The Republican Party is like the Chicago Cubs.  Every time we start thinking this could be the year, they remind us that we shouldn't get our hopes up.  Boy, it's tough being a Cubs fan sometimes. 

On the bright side, it was nice to see that Habeeb Habeeb put the interests of the district over the career interests of a few political insiders.   In my opinion, we should be electing guys like Habeeb to congress instead of political lifers. 

JK wrote on May 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I would respectfully disagree with the statement about Ms. Harold. She has not been an active member of this area since choosing to practice law in Chicago. She has no business representing this area. Were she to choose to re-enter the community, I would certainly agree that she would make a fine candidate to represent this area.

johnny wrote on May 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Is that why he backed Jerry Clarke until the final few days?  Good to know.