At a time when 28 House Republicans have either resigned or are not running again, when candidate recruitment is not going well, and when the accounting scandal surrounding the National Republican Congressional Committee draws increasing media attention, the Republican Party did not need what happened Thursday in Illinois.
In the 11th District (Will County), where seven-term GOPer Jerry Weller is stepping down this year, Republicans nominated New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann as their standard-bearer. Baldermann, who doubles as police chief of Chicago Ridge, had the blessings of Weller and most local party sachems and won the primary handily on February 5.
Just over two weeks later, on February 22, Baldermann stunned party leaders from Chicago to Washington by announcing he was resigning the nomination. “I have reached the conclusion that I cannot ably serve the citizens of those two municipalities while also running a full-time campaign for Congress," Baldermann said in a statement. "Though I tried to make it work, I’ve learned that it’s just not possible to essentially have four full-time jobs — mayor, chief, father of five and congressional candidate.”
Under party rules, a special district-wide convention will be held within a few weeks to select a new nominee. Sources in Chicago told me that State GOP Chairman Andy McKenna has some independently wealthy prospects for the nomination.
But whoever is the nominee will face an uphill battle against Democratic State Sen. Deb Halvorson of Crete, who had already out-raised Baldermann by a margin of 4-to-1.