CHAMPAIGN — Saying that he didn't want to be part of a vitriolic campaign for the Legislature, Champaign Republican Alan Nudo Saturday withdrew from the 52nd Senate District race.
Nudo's decision means that John Bambenek, also of Champaign, will be unopposed for the Republican nomination in the Senate district that includes most of Champaign and Vermilion counties. Bambenek will run against Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, in the November election.
"I just came to the conclusion that this early in the game, with the kind of comments that started even after I announced, and continued like a drumbeat, that I would have to change myself to respond to it," Nudo said.
He said his comments in a News-Gazette article published Saturday were "a mistake on my part. I should have tried to stay above the fray and explain it as best I could."
In Saturday's story Nudo charged that Bambenek and Frerichs were working together against him.
"I don't want to get into an accusatory thing, or get into charging somebody with something like I did yesterday. That's not me," Nudo said. "I really and truly believe in the citizen legislator concept, that we should be in there for a short time, for private enterprise and then leave after you've accomplished something."
Nudo also said he would resign immediately from the Champaign County Board, where he had been a member since 2007. He had been appointed to replace Scott Tapley, who moved out of the community. Nudo was elected to the board in 2008.
He said that he believed his decision to withdraw from the Senate race would make him less effective on the county board, where he was to serve until December.
"I don't think I can be effective. People will look at me in a jaundiced way and I don't want to do that," Nudo said.
He said he made his decision after consulting with his wife, his children and local Republican officials. He said he had attempted to call Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont but had not reached her yet.
"I vowed to myself that I was going to run a different kind of a campaign. And I just don't see how I can do that in today's world and be true to myself," Nudo said during a brief interview at his Champaign home. "The only thing you come into this world with is your name and you leave with your name.
"I've done a lot of things over the years with my business, with the Robeson family, with charitable organizations, with basketball. That's the kind of things I want to be remembered by. I don't want to be remembered by being a vitriolic person who is charging this and charging that. I wanted to get into issues and voting records, and in today's world I don't think that I can do it. So it's on my shoulders. This is my decision."
Nudo, who had raised about $55,000 in almost entirely local contributions since announcing his candidacy last summer, said he would return all of the contributions to his campaign.
"These are my friends, my business associates, my relatives. So I'm going to reimburse everyone 100 percent," he said.
He said he had no doubt he would have won the Republican primary election in March.
"I'm a damned good retail candidate. When I talk to a group I can feel and see that they're in support. I've talked to a number of groups in the last week from Catlin to Rantoul, and I had widespread support. I'm good as a retail candidate. But I just don't want to be vitriolic or accusatory. The Saturday article pointed out to me, 'Man, am I right? What am I doing?' I know I'm right on the issues. But is it worth it?"