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Johnson throws Clarke under the bus

Friday, Apr 27, 2012

* Jerry Clarke has taken a ton of flak for being too close to Congressman Tim Johnson. Clarke was once Johnson’s chief of staff and there has been a nagging suspicion among many that Johnson dropped out of his campaign to help his old friend.

Johnson ain’t exactly the most popular guy among Republican political leaders in the 13th Congressional District these days. The GOP big dogs are furious that he would pull a stunt like this, so Clarke’s close ties to Johnson have hurt him with some. And the fact that Clarke reserved a campaign website address almost two months before Johnson’s retirement announcement has only further damaged him with the county party chairmen. Even if Clarke is telling the truth that he was just preparing for a run two years down the line, it sure looks fishy and people don’t like to be lied to, especially people who are about to hand out one of the greatest plums available.

It wasn’t all that long ago that being a congressional staffer was a good route up the ladder. Mark Kirk, Ray LaHood and plenty of others moved up that way. Times have changed, though, particularly in the GOP.

Johnson can be an odd duck, so I’m not sure whether he might’ve thought issuing a statement saying Clarke shouldn’t be considered as a ballot replacement could actually help Jerry, but I really doubt it’s gonna help him. It’s also possible that Johnson just wants to disassociate himself from this entire mess

U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson said Thursday he doesn’t think former staff members should be among those considered to replace him on the November ballot in the new 13th Congressional District. […]

“At my retirement announcement, I let people know that no one in my family or on my staff would be a candidate for the nomination,” Johnson added. “The exclusion of those individuals should also extend to my former staff as the Republican Party moves forward in the most open and honest way possible.

“Several highly qualified individuals have expressed interest in succeeding me. I believe a number of them can be successful in the general election,” he said.

Clarke’s spokesman said his candidate is staying in the race. I’m not sure whether that’ll actually happen, though. This has become a circus, and that bodes very ill for Jerry. And, really, that’s too bad because I think Jerry would make a heckuva congressman.

* Related…

* Dan Brady decides not to seek Johnson ballot spot

* Watson not seeking 13th nomination: State Representative Jim Watson told the Jacksonville Journal Courier he is not interested in replacing U. S. Representative Tim Johnson.

* Press Release: Plummer Advances to NRCC ‘Contender’

* Gender gap persists among political donors: Two examples of women in Congress who have been able to raise substantial amounts from other women: Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. About 46% of the $10.5 million Boxer raised from individual contributions came from women, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Schakowsky raised about $722,000 from individuals and about 64% came from women.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - just sayin' - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 9:33 am:

    “U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson said Thursday he doesn’t think former staff members should be among those considered . . . ”

    If he’s talking about Clarke AND Rodney Davis, he’s right on both counts. Neither is deserving and it’s no better for Cong. Shimkus to be lobbying county chairmen for his staffer the way he’s been doing.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 9:37 am:

    The fact that Tim Johnson has now stated, very specifically, that FORMER staff should not be considered speaks volumes to how horribly (politically) Jerry Clarke and Mike Cys have made the case to “appoint” Jerry to the seat. Mike Cys first states how close the two men are, when wanting to curry favor with the County Chairmen, now Cys HAS to say, “With all due respect”?

    Let’s look at the new Cys quote, for example, to see how extremely poorly this has been handled;

    “With his 27 years of service, three tours in Iraq and the fact that he was born and raised in central Illinois, (it) demonstrates he is the best person to represent Republicans on the ticket in the fall,” Cys said of Clarke. “With all due respect, the final decision comes down to the voters of the 13th District.”

    Oh my Goodness! Mike Cys has just about buried Jerry Clarke, single-handedly. Who says that they want the voters to decide, when the February 10th domain security reeks of insider information? Jerry Clarke lost his former boss by the reckless way he and Cys handled the events to replace Johnson.

    Further, the voters have not HAD the chance to decide on Jerry qualifications, but goodness, that domain is ready. Who mentions voters like that, as a crutch no less, when deflecting from insider information allegations?

    Mike Cys needs to be fired immediately if Jerry hopes to survive till May.

    Jerry, Mike is your friend for 20 plus years, but he is literally KILLING your chances to get this nomination. Take the phone away from his mouth, take the email away from his fingers, do whatever you need to do to distance yourself from Cys …ASAP.


    Jerry, IF … you are orchestrating this ridiculous fiasco, from the February 10 domain security, to making Cys say this is all just “coincidences” that make you, Jerry Clarke, look like a vulture waiting for the Johnson campaign to whither, … with you, Jerry Clarke, in the wings, what does that say? It looks all too convenient for you to be placed, without a primary, and coast into a job you have wanted for all those 27 years. I dunno what to say about the political acumen shown. There is a lack of political savvy that I, frankly, am a bit surprised to see in you, Jerry.

    What has happened with you both?

    It‘s like all the political instincts you both had went South. Or, did you both become so “DC” that insider appearances can be shooed away with a quote and a smile? You both know the climate here in Illinois, right now, today.

    This is the manner you try to jumpstart a Congressional career, 27 years in the making? It looks slimy, it looks dirty, and it reeks of an opportunist from an “insider” … things that you never had to answer to before as you waited for YOUR chance, Jerry. This is all self-inflicted, and such a shame that this makes me sad for you, Jerry. I am so utterly disappointed in Mike Cys and Mike’s handling of your well-being when you needed him most.

    Attention County Chairmen; Tim Johnson has made his decision, now on FORMER staffers.

    Tim Johnson had to go one step further then he even wanted to, but now had to. Johnson said that current staffers and family would not get his support. Tim Johnson was FORECD to add former staffers to his list by Jerry’s actions. Jerry Clarke and Mike Cys brought Tim Johnson’s opinion on themselves.

    Making that SECOND statement let’s you know, with no room for error, that Tim is not pleased by Jerry’s actions, and Tim Johnson prefers someone other than a man he mentored himself all these years…Jerry Clarke. Or, Tim Johnson is throwing Jerry under the bus, or … both at this point.

    Think, Chairmen … think. The ONLY person who has thrown their name in now, that Tim Johnson would not back is Jerry Clark. WOW. Just a shame! Even after this post, I still feel bad for Jerry.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 9:49 am:

    One last point …

    Why do I ding the ILGOP so much, when I am a Republican?

    A “Jason Plummer” has a better shot, today, to be a Congressman in Illinois than a “Jerry Clarke”?

    Look at the resumes … My goodnes, gracious!

    I may not be a fan how the Clarke thing is going down, but let’s be a bit real for a moment… Clarke v. Plummer as candiates you want for your party?

    Not even a discussion.

    Jerry, I am sorry I even COMPARED the two of you.

    Just a shame …

  4. - just sayin' - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 9:51 am:

    Who exactly are “the GOP big dogs” when it comes to Illinois?

    When a state gop is this screwed up it’s probably more appropriate to talk in terms of “kitties.”

  5. - Raising Kane - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 10:00 am:

    Rodney would make a great Congressman. He is thoughtful, honest and a real advocate for Central Illinois. And I agree with Rich, Jerry would have been an excellent Congressman too. But he got thrown under the bus when it looked like he and Johnson plotted this. And now, Johnson has thrown the bus in reverse and backed back over him.

    So, now that Jim Watson and Dan Brady…both really respected, solid legislators are out, Rodney seems to be emerging as the strongest option. That district will be much better off as a result. Rodney Davis will be a much stronger Congressman than Johnson ever was.

  6. - Team Sleep - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 10:04 am:

    This is a huge mess for the ILGOP. I sometimes wonder if this “happenstance” stems from the state party and Congressional delegation shunning Tim because he wouldn’t participate in that stupid, wasteful, unnecessary remap lawsuit. As long as Dr. Gill doesn’t run his mouth too much and shows an ability to raise some cash, this race could be a lot tighter than the GOP realizes. Obama won’t do too well in central and southern Illinois but he may do better than expected in the bigger college towns, Springfield’s eastside and portions of the Metro East. Areas like Chambana, Normal and portions of Springfield and Decatur could be enough to put Dr. Gill over the top in a close race. Those areas aren’t quite akin to the conservative nature of the Bible Belt and pro-union, pro-single payer care may play well in those aforementioned areas.

    I don’t know if Clarke would be a good Congressman. I’m kind of tepid on the idea of former staffers being elevated to that of candidate and eventual elected official. It takes a lot more than political acumen and rigorous campaign experience to make a constituent-oriented, focused and ever-willing public servant. You have to know what it means to be a Congressman and what the job stands for. A staffer can be given a specific job set and many Congressional staffers can do that specific job long enough that they may be out of touch with the overall duties of a Congressional office. For instance, would a press secretary know how to handle casework and scheduling? Would that lack of institutional knowledge mean other areas of an office would suffer? A Congressional office is about more than doling out pork project money and using the local press to tout how awesome that Congressperson things he or she is. Such an elevation could mean putting a Congressperson who knows little about the overall duties and responsibilities of the office.

  7. - Raising Kane - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 10:15 am:

    Like Rich said, Lahood and Mark Kirk were both Congressional staffers. Durbin was a Simon staffer. You learn a lot about the process that way and often hit the ground running.

  8. - Ill GOP - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 10:20 am:

    Perish the thought Plummer being a potential pick.

  9. - wordslinger - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 10:28 am:

    Johnson certainly marches to his own drummer. This looked wired, just like past nomination resignations have been.

  10. - Team Sleep - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 10:28 am:

    Yeah, Kane, and so was Phil Hare. That didn’t turn out quite so well.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 10:29 am:

    ===Perish the thought Plummer being a potential pick.===

    NO, what I meant, is that Plummer is a Nominee, and is closer to becoming a congressman than Clarke, who is TRYING to ba nominee, but is sabotaging his own chance at it.

    THAT is my reference …

    Also …

    ===Like Rich said, Lahood and Mark Kirk were both Congressional staffers. Durbin was a Simon staffer. You learn a lot about the process that way and often hit the ground running.===

    Agree, 100%.

    The manner by which Clarke has been attempting to get the nomination is the “beef”, not the resume to get the spot, to clairify my thoughts.

  12. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 10:31 am:

    ===Johnson certainly marches to his own drummer. This looked wired, just like past nomination resignations have been.===

    That’s the “rub”, isn’t it - wordslinger -, but this time, the February 10th date of a domain just dumped gallons of gas on the fire.

    It’s always the coverup …isn’t it, or in this case, the perceived coverup. Very. Sad.

  13. - too obvious - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 10:32 am:

    If the GOP picks Rodney Davis now they deserve to lose this seat.

    Erika Harold looks like the only escape from this latest disaster the GOP has gotten itself into. And at least Harold has a real job, unlike nearly all these other gov’t payrollers. What have any of the others done to merit a promotion?

  14. - Immi - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 11:45 am:

    Too Obvious- you may not like someone working for the govt, but how is that not a “real job”. I’d think working for and observing a member of Congress would be decent training for the job. At the very least, it would qualify as a “real job”. Running a political party org/ campaign or working in a top position for an elected official are real jobs… albeit maybe not as real as that Miss America job in your book.

  15. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 11:54 am:

    Why is the GOP giving the Dems a shot here? I don’t think David Gill could have beaten experienced political candidates like Watson and Brady, but with them now out it seems like Gill’s chances go up.

    Also, is the emergence of Erika Harold as a candidate related to that Eric Cantor/Paul Ryan ridiculous “Young Guns: Woman Up” program?

  16. - LincolnLounger - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 11:58 am:

    How many elections does Rodney Davis have to lose before people get that he would be a weak candidate?

  17. - Odd Duck - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 12:58 pm:

    Always seemed odd that Jerry left Tim to work for a Congressman two hours north. Never really heard the reason why and it appears that his family stayed in Champaign, seems like there is a really good story there that hasn’t come out. Anyone ever heard the story?

  18. - Decaturguy - Friday, Apr 27, 12 @ 2:10 pm:

    Wow, what ineptitude on these county chairman. They were summoned to meet with Miss America but every other candidate has to run all over Central Illinois. Sorry Con. Schock Macon County won’t go for a person whose lived the past seven years in Chicago. Why don’t those yokel County Chairman look to someone with electoral experience (successful) sorry Rodney like Jim Watson or Dan Brady.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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