U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, said he would review a resolution forwarded to him last week by the Champaign County Board but didn't promise he would support it.
The resolution asks Johnson and U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk to "pursue and take actions as necessary to name" the federal courthouse in Urbana for former Champaign County State's Attorney and federal prosecutor James R. Burgess, who died in 1997. Burgess' son Steve has been promoting the honorary designation for his father, who also was a commander of a U.S. Army tank battalion in World War II that was the first African-American unit in the war to see combat in Europe.
"I really haven't explored it at any great depth yet," Johnson said Monday. "The fact that the county board gave us a resolution is interesting, but I'm bound by 715,000 people, not just the Champaign County Board. I would also point out that the federal district court is a court that covers a wide geographical area, not just Champaign County. It happens to be here but ... I would want to look and see what the people overall in the district say."
Johnson said Burgess, who was state's attorney from 1972 to 1976, "was a friend of mine," and that his son also is a friend.
"But I'm not going to make a commitment on that right now," said Johnson, 65, who was a member of the Urbana City Council when Burgess was elected state's attorney. In 1976, when Burgess was defeated for re-election, Johnson won his first of 12 terms in the Illinois House.
Also Monday, Johnson said he still isn't committed to any Republican presidential candidate.
"Nobody's asked me," he said, adding that he isn't even leaning toward supporting one. "The one who I know the best, who I am personal friends with and I have lunch with at least every other week, is Ron Paul. He's a very good personal friend and I have a high regard for his integrity. But he hasn't asked me, nor have I volunteered to endorse anybody. I want the nominee to be someone who can win because I think we need to change the direction of America."