Where did the candidates go?

Where did the candidates go?

What's striking about the open seat in the Illinois House of Representatives from Champaign-Urbana is the lack of interest in filling it.

When Democratic state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson announced a couple of weeks ago that she would not seek re-election, it seemed likely that a good-sized herd of aspiring, veteran local politicos would step forward to fill her seat.

That's what usually happens, but it hasn't happened yet. Fortunately, there's still time.

So far three candidates have announced they would seek the Democratic Party nomination.

One, Michael Richards, a Democratic member of the Champaign County Board who claimed Jakobsson's endorsement, already has dropped out. Richards said he couldn't juggle his state job with the time demands of running for legislative office.

Gee, why didn't he think about that before he threw his hat into the ring? And if Jakobsson was going to put her political credibility on the line and endorse him, why didn't she explain the facts of political life to her protege?

The other two Democrats in the race are Urbana City Council member Carol Ammons and Sam Rosenberg, a Champaign lawyer.

On the Republican side, local businesswoman Kristin Williamson has announced she'll seek her party's nomination.

The political reality, however, is that this seat belongs to the Democrats and that the winner of the March 2014 primary will most likely be the winner of the November 2014 general election. Made up largely of Champaign-Urbana, the district's boundary lines were drawn by majority Democrats in Springfield to give their party the overwhelming political advantage, and that's the way it has turned out.

Jakobsson's toughest election race was in the 2002 Democratic Party primary election. After defeating current Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing to win her party's nomination, Jakobsson went on to oust incumbent Republican state Rep. Tom Berns in the new Democratic-drawn 103rd district. Jakobsson hasn't faced a Republican opponent who put up more than token resistance since then.

Because the eventual winner of next year's election will mostly likely be a Democrat, it's especially important that the party put its best candidates forward.

We don't mean to denigrate the candidacies of either Ammons or Rosenberg, but they're not well known and don't offer a wealth of experience. They have little of substance to offer other than their earnestness, energy and interest in this important legislative office.

It's hard to believe that there are no other people in our highly educated university community who couldn't bolster the choices Democrats offer voters in the primary election.

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