CHAMPAIGN — Two Republicans have entered their party's nominating process for Champaign County circuit clerk, guaranteeing a contest after primary election winner Rick Winkel officially declines the nomination next week.
Katie Malone Blakeman, 31, a Champaign native and a past chair of the Champaign County Young Republicans, filed an application Friday as did Alex (A.J.) Ruggieri, 34, a member of the support staff at the Grainger Engineering Library at the University of Illinois.
As many as three other persons are interested in the race, including Champaign County Board member Stephanie Holderfield of Mahomet, who finished second to Winkel in the March 20 primary. As of Friday afternoon, however, Holderfield had not filed a candidate application with the county Republican Party. Applications are due by 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Republican precinct committeemen are scheduled to meet Thursday night to select the GOP candidate who will run against Democrat Barbara Wysocki in the November general election.
The unusual process developed after Holderfield lost to Winkel, a former state legislator from Urbana, in the primary election. Winkel already had withdrawn from the race in February, but his announcement came too late for his name to be removed from the ballot.
He's already said he will decline the nomination as soon as it becomes legal for him to do so.
Holderfield has said that she is "very confident" she has enough support from the 76 Republican precinct committeemen who are eligible to vote Thursday.
Blakeman is the assistant director of development in the division of student affairs at the UI. She lives in Champaign with her husband, T.J., a city of Champaign planner, and their 7-month-old daughter.
"The primary reason I am seeking this nomination is that feel I am highly qualified for the position itself," she wrote. "I see this position as one that requires experience in information technology, personnel management, budgeting and customer service. With my background and professional experience I feel I am well qualified to run a winning campaign and serve our county as circuit clerk."
She said she has "spent many hours knocking on doors, walking in parades and organizing trainings and events, and I would continue to do so as an elected official."
Ruggieri, who is married with two children and said he is temporarily living in Tuscola, said he has "not been directly involved in the local Republican organization yet" but has "a great interest in being active in politics."
Ruggieri is a graduate of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School based in Lansing, Mich., and served in Afghanistan with the Illinois Army National Guard in 2008 and 2009.
Others who may be interested but who have not yet filed include Holderfield and attorneys Sami Anderson and Scott Perkins. Anderson and Perkins were unavailable for comment Friday.