Change of heart by Winters irks fellow Republican
By Stuart R. Wahlin
State Rep. Dave Winters (R-68) bowed out of the race for lieutenant governor Sept. 20, deciding instead to run for re-election to the House for a ninth term.
Winters announced his candidacy in July for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in the February primary, but said this week he’s stepping aside after Sen. Matt Murphy (R-27) entered the race.
Murphy originally planned to run for governor in 2010, but instead decided to become the running mate of Andy McKenna, former chairman of the Illinois Republicans.
But the news doesn’t come as a pleasant surprise to fellow Republican John Cabello, who was endorsed last month by Winters for his House seat.
“I am disappointed that Dave Winters has apparently made a decision to re-enter the race,” Cabello said in a press release, “and thus break his word with me and many others that he would not do such a thing.” [See page A6.]
Winters explained: “John and I met for about an hour on Friday [Sept. 18]. I was aware that he had a fundraiser coming up the next day. Basically, my wife and I had talked things through on whether or not to run again, and made the decision that afternoon. So, virtually as soon as we made our decision, I called John and said: ‘I’d like to meet with you. I know you’ve put a lot of time into this organization, but I do intend to run again.’ And I had told him, I think back in August when I first met him, that at that time, I did not anticipate at all running again.”
Winters said he’s gotten heavily involved in recent months with redistricting, which will be before the General Assembly in its next term after the 2010 census.
“The ground changed, where I think I can have a strong influence on how redistricting’s done,” Winters said. “It’s not a one-year deal. This is gonna be a battle over the next three years.”
Winters understands Cabello’s frustration, but suggested the relative newcomer may want to think about the bigger picture.
“I know John’s disappointed,” Winters acknowledged. “We said: ‘Look, it doesn’t help our party, the Republican Party, to have divisive primaries. I think I’ve got a track record that I’m comfortable running on, and if you can see your way to backing out, that certainly would help a lot of the people in the party accept you as a candidate.’
“We said: ‘Look, we can help you. You’re absolutely green as an elected official. You’ve been in office five months. Over the next couple of years, we can help you build your reputation as an office holder, and probably put you in a position where it’s almost a slam dunk,’” Winters added.
Cabello would not be deterred, however.
“Despite an effort on the part of Mr. Winters to get me to step aside, I am going to represent myself to my future constituents as one of those rare political figures who actually keeps his word,” he added, pledging his campaign will move ahead at full steam. “I don’t know who Mr. Winters is talking to, but the people I talk to in the 68th District are seeking change in government.”
Winnebago County Republican Central Committee Chairman Jan Klaas indicated she was out of town, and that she’d not spoken with Winters or Cabello regarding the latest developments.
While Cabello, a Harlem Township trustee and Rockford Police detective, said he won’t step aside, another Republican hopeful dropped out of the primary race upon Winters’ announcement.
James Thompson, vice chairman of the Winnebago County Republicans, announced his candidacy for the House seat earlier this month, but conceded to throw his support behind the incumbent Sept. 20.
Republican Paul Williams, an electrician and Rockton Township trustee, has indicated he plans to remain on the February Republican primary ballot for the 68th District. He said he has not been asked to drop out of the race.
Another Dave Winters, a Rockton trustee, has also been circulating petitions to run as a Republican, but Rep. Winters said he’d not had a chance to speak with him since deciding to run for re-election.
Trustee Winters indicated he’ll decide in the coming week whether to pursue a House campaign.
“I do believe I can bring some positive changes to the district as I am not tied to the typical political players in the area,” the Rockton trustee noted. “Because of this, as you can imagine, fundraising has been a challenge.”
Democrat Clint Little, a Loves Park alderman, is also running for the House seat.
From the September 23-29, 2009 issue
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