OFF BEAT: Is Jerry Long anti-establishment?

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Derek Barichello
Derek Barichello

State Rep. Jerry Long said his support of gubernatorial primary candidate Jeanne Ives led the House Republican Organization to pull its support.

Last week, the state GOP halted its campaign support and asked for his resignation after a harassment complaint was filed against him, citing a zero tolerance policy for harassment.

While Long was critical of Gov. Bruce Rauner in an Oct. 14, 2017, article, I couldn’t find any record of him supporting Ives.

At that time, Sens. Jason Barickman and Sue Rezin, as well as Rep. David Welter, spoke out against the governor for his approval of a bill allowing Medicaid and state employees’ health insurance to pay for abortions. Long, too, was disappointed in Rauner’s support of the abortion bill.

Long didn’t endorse Ives. He said at the time he doesn’t endorse candidates during party primary elections. He endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, however, over Donald Trump before Illinois’ Republican Party presidential primary.

"I’ll endorse whoever I feel after the primary," Long said in the Oct. 14 article.

Long clarified Tuesday he was not behind the governor, and almost endorsed Ives, but didn’t do so on record.

"I told them that I did not endorse either candidate, but when people asked me about the two candidates on the Republican side I told people that I had problems with the governor’s positions on many issues concerning the state of Illinois. Almost endorsing Jeanne Ives on a one-on-one basis before the primary."

In the aftermath of the state GOP pulling its resources, Long is presenting himself on his campaign Facebook page as an anti-establishment candidate.

"The HRO and I have always had a contentious relationship due to the fact that I refuse to be their puppet," he posted on Sept. 14.

Not allying with the state GOP is a break from past actions.

Just two years ago, Long and two state Republican officials met with Long’s primary opponent, Jacob Bramel, at an Ottawa bar. They asked Bramel to leave the race in return for the possibility of job opportunities.

In April, Long signed a letter discouraging John McGlasson, 16th Congressional District State Central Committeeman, who supported anti-establishment candidate James Marter against Congressman Adam Kinzinger, from running. Still, McGlasson took 72.5 percent of the committeeman vote over State Rep. Tom Demmer, of Dixon.

This July, Long appeared with Rauner to sign the People’s Pledge on term limits. Despite making the appearance with the governor, Long noted at that event he and the governor have not seen eye to eye on many issues. Long said he was there because he was in favor of term limits for lawmakers.

Coming up on a battle for his seat, Long’s campaign had received donations of $18,934 and $28,401 as of Aug. 31 and Sept. 7 from the Illinois Republican Party. The GOP was fully invested in his bid for re-election against Democratic challenger Lance Yednock, of Ottawa. Democrats need four seats to regain a supermajority in the House, which makes it easier to overturn a gubernatorial veto.

After Long was dumped by the state party, he gained McGlasson’s support, along with the county Republican central committees in his district. The county parties in La Salle, Livingston, Bureau and Putnam lean more conservative than the state party.

Throw in a reference to Ives, and it appeared Long was moving more right.

When asked about signing the letter against McGlasson, Long wouldn’t go that far Tuesday. He responded he is an independent who doesn’t adhere to one side or the other.

About the investigation

Long and his attorney, Julie Ajster, said Robert Milan, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern Illinois District, who conducted an internal investigation into a harassment complaint against Long, should have identified prior connections to House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.

Milan served as a senior adviser to the Illinois House Republican Leader on criminal justice reform issues. Milan and Andrea Gonzalez, both of Alvarez & Marsel, conducted the investigation.

Long believes his contentious relationship with the House Republican Organization played a role in either the complaint or their reaction to the complaint, which is why anyone with a relationship to the House Republican Organization may bring a conflict, from his perspective.

To the House Republican Organization, however, the conflict was between Long and the complainant, which is why they believed Milan to be independent.

It’s important to note the investigation was not a criminal one. The investigation was called by the House Republican Organization to determine if it should continue its relationship investing in Long’s campaign.

A report, which Long is seeking, has not been shared. Ajster said the investigation consisted of one day of 10- to 15-minute interviews.

Seeing blue

Yednock’s campaign is showing no signs of slowing down after Long’s news. The Democratic Party has given the Ottawan’s campaign more than $70,300 since Sept. 17 for production and postage costs. The Democratic party had invested $127,787.41 into Yednock’s campaign by the end of August.

OFF BEAT�is a column expanding on coverage beyond the regular news beat, from ideas to issues. Email News Editor Derek Barichello at dbarichello@shawmedia.com or call 815-431-4073 with news tips, questions or to chat.

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via News for Ottawa, Illinois | The Times

September 26, 2018 at 07:09AM

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