State Rep. Jerry Long, R-Streator, says he has not done anything which warrants his resignation.
The House Republican Organization announced Thursday it was withdrawing its support of Long and in his bid for re-election after a verbal and physical harassment complaint was lodged against him within its organization. The group also asked Long to step down from his position.
The Illinois Republican Party also withdrew its support of Long, confirmed its Executive Director Travis Sterling on Friday.
Long is facing Democratic challenger Lance Yednock, of Ottawa, for the 76th District House seat. The seat, once long held by Democrat Frank Mautino, is considered a battleground for the two parties. Long defeated Andy Skoog, who succeeded Mautino, in November 2016 with 50.6 percent of the vote.
"I want to make it perfectly clear to my constituents and supporters, I have done nothing which warrants my resignation as your state representative," Long said in a statement posted to his campaign page on Facebook. "In fact, just the opposite. I stood my ground and stayed true to my values."
The House Republican Organization said it brought in a third party firm to investigate allegations of harassment after it was made aware of complaints over Labor Day weekend.
"We immediately brought in a third party firm to investigate these allegations, and upon completion of their report on Sept. 12, a decision was made to withdraw support of Rep. Long’s campaign, restrict access to all caucus resources and recommend he step down from his position," said Eleni Demertzis, Office of the House Republican Leader Jim Durkin in a press statement.
"The House Republican caucus and organization has a zero tolerance policy on harassment of any kind."
Long said he has had a contentious relationship with the House Republican Organization, "due to the fact that I refuse to be their puppet."
"On the Friday before Labor Day, HRO through an employee prepared a statement for me to read for robo calls to voters which did not meet my expectations," Long said in a statement. "The HRO’s employee wanted me to read a statement that sounded more like HRO and not the people’s State Rep. Jerry Long."
Long said he refused to record HRO’s message and recorded his own message, which "infuriated the HRO employee."
"Rather than allow me the ability to speak my own mind and represent the 76th District, the HRO has used this simple disagreement as way to pull their support," Long said in a statement.
" … I was entrusted by the good people of the 76th District to be their state representative and to fight for them in Springfield. I would never do anything to violate their trust."
Long said he doesn’t need the support of the House Republican Organization and will continue to serve in the legislature.
The complainant issued an anonymous statement Friday through the House Republican Organization.
"Rep. Long’s denial of his actions and behavior are troubling and disappointing.
"While there was an incident of physical harassment, the verbal abuse and abuse of power on a daily basis resulted in a hostile work environment that put anyone around him at risk.
"It is my sincere hope that Rep. Long resigns from his position and gets the help that he needs."
Long told WCMY 1430 radio in Ottawa that "he can be demanding," due to the nature of the campaign being high pressure and high paced. When mentioned he was "an abusive boss," Long said he was a "demanding boss."
The House Republican Organization has given $37,674.98 to Long in his bid for re-election and the House Victory Fund $5,000, according to filings with the Illinois State Board of Elections. The last contribution recorded was from Aug. 30. The Illinois Republican Party also has given $86,348.80 to Long with its latest contribution recorded Sept. 7.
If Long resigns or drops out of the race, the ballot vacancy for the November election must be filled within eight days. The party can replace a candidate that drops out up to 16 days before an election, according to Matt Dietrich, Public Information Officer for the Illinois State Board of Elections.
In July, Long appeared with Gov. Bruce Rauner in Ottawa to sign the “People’s Pledge,” which is term-limit pledges the governor is advocating for in his campaign.
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September 14, 2018 at 09:25PM