PAXTON — Ford County's Republican Party is on record as supporting Rick Santorum for president and Shane Cultra for a full term as state senator.
Eric Thompson, chairman of the 22-member central committee, said the vote earlier this month was "a blowout" for Santorum, and Cultra, who is being challenged by state Rep. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, in the new 53rd Senate District, "won handily."
The committeemen could not, however, make an endorsement in the 106th House District race where Ford County resident Tom Bennett is among five Republicans vying for an open seat.
"It was pretty well split," although "Bennett received a substantial number of the votes," Thompson said. The other candidates in the race, which will be decided at the March 20 primary election, are Scott McCoy of Pontiac, Josh Harms of Watseka, Richard Thomas of Dwight and Brian Gabor of Pontiac.
Thompson declined to disclose vote totals but said he was surprised by the level of support for Santorum, adding that he thought "(Mitt) Romney would garner a lot more votes than he did."
The Ford County endorsement vote was made the night of Feb. 7, the same night Santorum won caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado and a nonbinding primary in Missouri.
"We were ahead of the curve," Thompson boasted. "He was winning in those other places just as we were voting to endorse him."
The party also voted to support Doug Wallace for coroner and county board members Gene May, David Hastings, Richard Hewerdine, Cindy Ihrke, Patricia Haskins, Ann Ihrke and Robert Lindgren. All have contested primaries.
Not only can the endorsed candidates promote the party's backing in their own campaign literature, but the party also will be mailing about 5,000 sample ballots listing the endorsements to Ford County voters.
"A lot of central committees don't endorse," Thompson said, "but it's our belief that if we don't take a stand on a candidate then what do we stand for?"