FREEPORT – Republican leaders chose a replacement for Rep. Jim Sacia more than a week ago, but they’re keeping their selection secret until Wednesday.
Recently, Sacia, a Republican from Pecatonica, announced he would resign at month’s end, less than halfway through his sixth 2-year term. He said he was considering running for higher office.
Thirteen men applied to replace Sacia.
Republicans will announce their selection at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Freeport Public Library, 100 E. Douglas St.
A committee consisting of the Republican chairmen of Stephenson, Winnebago, Jo Daviess, Whiteside, Ogle and Carroll counties decided on Sacia’s replacement in a conference call on Sept. 9, Whiteside County Republican Chairwoman Jerri Robinson said. She declined to say who was picked.
The chairmen’s votes are weighted on the number of voters who cast their ballots for Sacia in their respective counties in the 2012 election. Stephenson County claimed 16,748 of Sacia’s 41,340 votes. He got 943 votes in Whiteside County and 4,284 in Carroll County.
“I can only speak for myself, but we certainly look for someone who intends to run and represent our district during next year’s election,” Stephenson County Republican Chairman Andrew T. Smith told Freeport’s Journal-Standard recently. “We’ve been operating under the assumption that who we pick will be running next year. I think the voters should be pleased with our selection when we announce it.”
The 13 applicants are Winnebago Village President Frank Eubank; Terry Ingram of Apple River; Ron Colson of Mount Morris; Steven Kelley of Thomson; Tim Clay of Dakota; Dean Wright of Pearl City; Justin St. Clair of Leaf River; Shawn Connors, former village president of Pecatonica; Dan Stevens, Dan Packard and Michael Lehmann of Lena; Doug Knodle of Byron; and Freeport businessman Brian Stewart.
The GOP apparently didn’t notify the losing contenders about Wednesday’s event.
Connors of Pecatonica said he knows Sacia well, especially because the lawmaker lives near the village. He said he must not have been picked because he didn’t know about the planned announcement.
“I think if someone steps down, it should go to the voters,” Connors said. “It’s the people’s seat, not the Republicans’ seat. It’s not Sacia’s seat. I respect him highly, but it’s the people’s seat.”
Connors said he planned to run for the seat, no matter what, in March’s Republican primary.
Ingram of Apple River said he, too, had no idea about the Wednesday event. He said the Jo Daviess County party chairman interviewed him for the committee.
“No one else has contacted me,” he said.
Eubank, an attorney, also was in the dark about Wednesday’s ceremony.
“I didn’t know where they were at [in the process],” he said.
Under state law, the GOP can choose Sacia’s replacement because he is a Republican.