CHAMPAIGN – The chairmen of the Champaign and Vermilion county Republican parties are calling on state Senate candidate Al Reynolds of Danville to withdraw his candidacy or suspend his campaign.
Retiring state Rep. Bill Black, R-Danvile, added "if I were in his shoes, I would probably withdraw. My only fear is his remarks have unfairly tainted those on the Republican ticket."
Repeated calls to Reynolds on Thursday went unreturned. He issued a statement apologizing for his remarks. 
The candidate's comments Wednesday night at a forum in Champaign have created a firestorm among Republicans, some of whom fear his public remarks about African-Americans could harm the party at a time when its fortunes appear to be on the upswing. During the forum, which was sponsored by the NAACP and the League of Women Voters, Reynolds said that black men "find it more lucrative to be able to do drugs or other avenues rather than do education."
In an interview after the forum he added, "We have to create an incentive for them to do better than standing on the corner because those are the ones who create single moms with kids and are our no-shows when it comes to pay. It perpetuates. Look at the numbers, the sheer numbers of those people that we have. And it's not just blacks.
"I came from Salinas (Calif.), which was probably 80 percent Hispanic. It's the same thing. You have Hispanic women with five, six, seven kids. And where's Dad? He's in the gang someplace."
Jason Barickman, the chairman of the Champaign County Republican Party, called Thursday morning for Reynolds' withdrawal from the 52nd District race against Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign.
"His negative comments are unwarranted, gross stereotypes of minorities and, specifically, African-American men," Barickman said. "Mr. Reynolds' opinions are in stark contrast to the core values of the Champaign County Republican Party and are personally offensive to me."
Champaign County leaders have been cool to Reynolds' candidacy from the beginning, a point the candidate complained about. Reynolds has raised only about $6,000 and didn't received any money from the Champaign County party. He did get a $250 contribution from the Vermilion County Republican Party in September.
"Mr. Reynolds independently ran as a write-in candidate and has implied that he was not being supported by the Champaign County Republican Party," Barickman said. "We had been concerned about his candidacy for other reasons, but comments of this type are disgusting and are the final straw. The voters of Champaign County deserve a better choice than they've been given by Mr. Reynolds."
County board Republicans, meeting in caucus before Thursday night's meeting, briefly discussed the furor but decided not to adopt a statement.
"I completely agree with Jason (Barickman)," said caucus chair Greg Knott of rural St. Joseph.
Norman Davis, the GOP candidate for state representative in the 103rd District that includes Champaign-Urbana, called on Reynolds to drop out of the race,
"I am deeply disappointed in Mr. Reynolds' views," he said, "and wish to make perfectly clear to everyone that I in no way share those views and that I find Mr. Reynolds' views disgusting."
Craig Golden, head of the Vermilion County Republican Executive Committee, Thursday afternoon asked Reynolds "to suspend his campaign or withdraw after his alleged remarks at the Champaign County Candidate Forum."
In a statement Golden said Reynolds' remarks "were a gross generalization and dealt with racial issues which have no place in a political campaign in 2010, or any other year."
Black, the dean of local Republicans who is retiring after nearly a quarter-century in the Illinois House, said Thursday "it is a gross generalization to use those kinds of stereotypes."
"I'm not going to defend Al. He's entitled to his remarks and he's entitled to his opinion. But I don't think his remarks or opinion should reflect on the Champaign County Republican Party or the Vermilion County Republican Party. That's not what our party is about.
"I know the two counties have invested a lot of time and a lot of energy in trying to build bridges to the African-American and Latino community and foster understanding. And Al in 45 seconds probably did more to destroy that in a very short period of time than all the efforts and blood, sweat and tears we've spent in trying to understand each other and reconnect."
Black said he fears the fallout from Reynolds comments less than two weeks before Election Day could hurt other Republican candidates.
"It really bothers me that (state representative candidate) Chad Hays may have to address this issue tonight at a candidate's forum, and it isn't Chad Hays' issue and it's not how Chad Hays feels," Black said. "Here again, when a guy makes a statement like that, the paint doesn't just stay on him. It splatters everyone else on the ticket. That's what is unfair."
Reynolds, who moved to East Central Illinois in 2007, entered the Senate race after founding the East Central Illinois Tea Party.
Another local tea party group Thursday criticized his comments.
"The Champaign Tea Party is disappointed to learn that Al Reynolds, who founded the East Central Illinois Tea Party in June of 2009, and resigned from that group in October 2009, has expressed negative racial opinions."
The Champaign Tea Party noted that all the area groups are unaffiliated.
"The East Central Illinois Tea Party and Champaign Tea Party are not related in any way," said its statement. "In addition, there are other tea party organizations in East Central Illinois, including Decatur, Bloomington, Springfield, Charleston and Gibson City, that all operate independently of each other.
"The Champaign Tea Party expressly condemns any negative racial opinion, speech or attitude."