Candidates are dropping out like flies.
In a business where many politicos are eager to run for office but denied the opportunity, 2012 looks like a year when some of those who have the opportunity to run are dropping out.
Champaign County experienced three such dropouts, U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson abandoning his congressional bid after running and winning in the March 20 primary, circuit clerk candidate Rick Winkel winning the GOP primary after dropping out of the race and Don Kermath choosing to drop off the ballot for a seat on the county board to pursue a business opportunity.
This week, another high-profile candidate — Democrat Brad Harriman of St. Clair County — announced that he's dropping out of the congressional race in the 12th District because a long-standing neurological condition threatens to grow if he continues to campaign.
Two weeks ago, it was the 14 Republican Party county chairmen in the 13th Congressional District who were forced to slate a candidate to take Johnson's ballot spot. Now it's the 12 Democratic Party chairmen in the 12th District who have the duty to select someone to take Harriman's ballot spot.
This district was for years safe Democratic turf, represented by U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, a political legend in the Belleville area. But last year, Costello opted not to run for another term, creating an opening that many local politicos wanted to fill.
It was Harriman, a former St. Clair County school superintendent, who won the Democratic Party primary election. But glory proved fleeting for Harriman, who was to face Republican Jason Plummer in the November general election.
As was the case with Johnson, a variety of names are being bandied about as replacement for Harriman, even that of Costello. Others include Costello's politician son, state Rep. Jerry Costello II, state Rep. John Bradley and former state Rep. Jay Hoffman.
Suffice it to say that it's a mess, just like the Johnson withdrawal was a mess.
Any election process that excludes voters is guaranteed to fall short of being acceptable. But any human endeavor is vulnerable to human factors, whether it's an untimely change of mind or a health setback, even the process of choosing candidates for public office.