A former chief of staff to Congressman Tim Johnson is wasting no time showing his interest in pursuing the seat the Urbana Republican is no longer pursuing. Jerry Clarke of Urbana is current chief of staff to Wheaton Republican Congressman Randy Hultgren, but worked under Johnson from 2001 through 2010. Whoever runs in Johnson's place in the 13th Congressional District will be selected by GOP county chairmen. But 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. 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, saying the two share the same position on a number of issues. The 46-year old also served on the staff of the Illinois House Republicans. He's a native of Pawnee in Sangamon County. Other names that have surfaced to succeed the retiring Johnson include State Representatives Chapin Rose of Mahomet and Dan Brady of Bloomington.
Support Your Public Radio Station