Clarke Will Try For Johnson’s Seat


A Sangamon County native will join the race to replace retiring Congressman Tim Johnson. Jerry Clarke, a former aide to Congressman Tim Johnson and Illinois House Republicans, plans to make an official announcement Monday.

Clarke, 46, is also a veteran of the Iraq War. More recently, he has been Chief of Staff for another Congressman, Republican Randy Hultgren.

Clarke says he likes his chances since Champaign County contains the largest weighted vote due to the number of Republican ballots cast this year.

He says the nature of debate in Washington now is killing the economy

"I've seen the dysfunction of Congress up close," said Clarke. "The partisanship and endless gridlock and the failure to solve our serious problems. I think the people of Central Illinois see the impact of an incompetent Congress, and the lack of job growth, the bad roads, high taxes, and endless debt. I think we can do better, and I'm ready to serve."

Clarke calls Congressman Johnson his mentor. The 46-year old Clarke also served on the staff of the Illinois House Republicans. He's a native of Pawnee in Sangamon County.

If Clarke is elected to Congress, he says the public should expect a similar voting record.

"We're pretty close, so I'll ask him to support me when the time is right," Clarke said. "I've been a chief of staff for the last 12 years out in Congress, I'd like to take a shot at running myself."

Tim Johnson made a surprising announcement this week that he will step down after his current term. County Republican leaders in the new 13th Congressional District will choose his replacement.

The new district stretches from the Champaign area on the east across Central Illinois, including Springfield and Decatur. Others who have expressed interest in the vacancy include state representatives Adam Brown of Decatur, Chapin Rose of Mahomet and Dan Brady of Bloomington. Senator Bill Brady of Bloomington said he won't try for the job.

Clarke kicks off a tour of the 13th District with stops in Urbana and Springfield on Monday.

Meanwhile, Dan Brady says he will be evaluating lot of factors before he decides whether to try to make that leap, including his own growing seniority in the State House.

"It was a major concern of not seeking to run for the state senate because of the fact of where I am in the (Illinois) House - and earning my stripes so to speak, and what I could to more to help my legislative district," Brady said.

Brady says he also recently took on a new business venture as a partner in a funeral home. He says the 13th district includes very little of McLean County. He says that could boil down to Champaign and Macon County Chairs effectively making the pick.

Story source: AP