Springfield’s Doris Turner, Frank McNeil and Lisa Badger are among the finalists to replace former 48th District Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, in the Illinois Senate.
Turner, the 3rd Ward alderwoman, McNeil, the former 2nd Ward alderman, and Badger, a member of the Springfield Park District Board, were listed among eight who were announced Wednesday as potential replacements for Manar, who left the Senate on Jan. 19 to become a senior adviser to Gov. JB Pritzker.
The other finalists include Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe, retired Illinois State Police Sgt. Shad Edwards, Assistant Macon County State’s Attorney Ruth Waller, Macoupin County District 1 Board Member Roberta Vojas and Chase Wilhelm, who ran last year in the 95th House District against Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville.
The six Democratic county chairs from Sangamon, Christian, Macon, Macoupin, Madison and Montgomery counties will meet with each candidate on Saturday, with an announcement coming on Feb. 6. A weighted vote will determine the next senator, with each county being weighted by the percentage of the votes that Manar received in the 2018 election.
Macon County will receive the largest weight in the group at 26.7 percent. Macoupin County follows with 21.4 percent, with Sangamon County following at 19.6 percent.
Turner’s inclusion in the race leaves Dan Kovats, the first vice-chair of the party, as Sangamon County’s representative in the discussions. Kovats said that Turner had withdrawn from the organizing committee to avoid any appearance of unfairness in the replacement selection.
“She withdrew from her role in order to make it more transparent,” Kovats said. “She doesn’t have any role in screening candidates or scheduling anything. She asked me as her first vice-chair that (I) represent the party taking part in the committee.
Kovats and his fellow committee members think the process is going well, with qualified candidates up and down the list. Macon County Democratic chair Laura Zimmerman agreed.
“I’ve really enjoyed this process,” Zimmerman said. “I have gotten to talk to and learn about a lot of people across the district who are great candidates for this position. They’re smart, committed (and) want to do what is right for this district. I think it’s a really strong field.”
As the process continues, county chairs have a variety of characteristics they want to see in Manar’s replacement. For instance, Kovats would like someone who can continue Manar’s role as an advocate for the district that includes rural areas and centers of political power like Springfield.
“(I want) someone who is going to be a vocal advocate for the 48th Senate District (and) all six of the counties," Kovats said. "(I want someone) who will stand up for the working class and middle class families and for Democratic values of being able to work within the state Senate to get our agenda passed."
Madison County Democratic chair Randy Harris said that he was simply looking for the best candidate to not only get the seat but keep it in Democratic hands in the future.
"I think the committee overall is going to look for the best person and who’s electable, not knowing what the map is going to look like," Harris said, in reference to statewide redistricting.
His counterpart in Christian County, Ben Curtin, also looked toward electability as a separator among the elite eight.
"No one knows what the district is going to look like," Curtin said. "We’re all facing the same dilemma, so we have to pick someone who will represent the district as it is for the next two years. Hopefully, whoever we get to fill out that Senate seat will run for re-election."
via The State Journal-Register
January 27, 2021 at 09:24PM