Tim Johnson to Drop Out of IL13 race

Illinois Congressman Tim Johnson (R-Urbana) is going to retire at the end of his fourth term in January. Family members indicate no health or scandal trouble, but that Johnson, 65, regrets the time spent away from family during a career in politics.

Since Johnson won the March 20 primary and without credible challenge, the Party chairs in the new 13th Congressional District will choose a replacement candidate. Given the weak nature of the Democrat who won that party’s primary, a good candidate should be able to win.

The crony faction successor for Tim Johnson is Jerry Clarke, State Central Committee member and aide to Randy Hultgren. Apparently several of our State Central Committee people are Congressional Aides. That’s how incumbents control the Party. It’s an inherently corrupt setup.

According to Republican News Watch, Clarke worked for former House Minority Leader Lee Daniels. Daniels’ long-time chief of staff Michael Tristano was indicted on federal charges including mail fraud and conspiracy. Clarke set up and ran Tristano’s political operation.

“Tristano pleaded guilty in 2006 to one count of fraud and agreed to cooperate with federal investigators in exchange for a recommended sentence of between 12 and 20 months in prison. Clarke was never charged with any wrongdoing.”

If he didn’t know what was going on, he isn’t very bright. If he did, well, he should not be in Congress.

Part of being a good candidate is having no obvious scandals, and having some experience running for elected office. Being a campaign manager is not the same as being a candidate. Being a losing campaign manager should not be qualification for a career in Congress. Clarke has run the last two losing Illinois gubernatorial campaigns, for Jim Ryan in 2002 and Bill Brady in 2010.

In the 2010 election, Brady was ahead by 7% in the polls on the weekend before the election, then lost to Pat Quinn. That kind of loss is not the fault of the candidate, but indicates a failed GOTV effort. The blame lands squarely on the campaign manager.

Indeed, the campaign’s reliance on phone banking led predictably to the result we saw.

Clarke was a Rudy Giuliani delegate candidate in 2008. Giuliani was a non-factor in the Illinois race that year.

Clarke is said to have an abrasive personality. Despite his military record, he’s not the kind of guy to have in Congress for the rest of our lives. And as the 13th is considered a safe Republican district, the successor to Johnson will probably have a long career in Washington.

The State Board of Elections records no donations by Clarke to any campaign, ever.

According to Jim Oberweis, the web of State Central Committee cronyism needs to be untangled. Jerry Clarke participates in that system and makes no effort to fix it.

Jerry Clarke is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

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