CHAMPAIGN — Republican leaders in the 13th Congressional District have narrowed the field to four potential opponents for Democrat David Gill in the new district that stretches from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to Collinsville on the southwest.
The four Republicans still under consideration include Jerry Clarke of Urbana, Rodney Davis of Taylorville, Kathy Wassink of Shipman and Erika Harold of Chicago, formerly of Urbana.
The four are seeking the GOP nomination to succeed U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, on the ballot. Johnson, a six-term congressman, dropped out of the race after winning the March 20 congressional primary election.
The four candidates eliminated by the 14 Republican county chairmen in the district after a meeting Saturday in Springfield include former Illinois Agriculture Director Becky Doyle of rural Gillespie; Sam Spradlin, a Springfield truck driver; Frank Metzger, a retired ironworker, of Glen Carbon; and Michael Firsching of Moro, a veterinarian.
The county chairmen still expect to make their final choice on May 19.
In the meantime several county chairmen have scheduled individual forums in their counties with the four hopefuls.
The Champaign County Republican Party will host a candidate forum for the four contenders from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center in Champaign.
Doors to the event will open at 5:15 p.m.
"I am committed to conducting an open and transparent nomination process and I encourage all registered voters residing in the 13th Congressional District to submit questions for the candidates and attend the forum," said Habeeb Habeeb, chairman of the Champaign County Republican Party. "This seat is incredibly important to Champaign County and I am confident that we will select a candidate who will represent the Republican Party well and win the election in November.
Each candidate will have five minutes to make an introduction before a joint question-and-answer session. The moderator will ask questions that have been submitted by voters of the 13th Congressional District. Voters are encouraged to send their questions either by email or by Twitter. Those Tweeting questions should go to @ChampaignGOP with the hashtag #AskIL13 or submit their questions on the forum registration form at http://www.champaigncountyrepublicans.org  by 10 a.m. Saturday.