Harriman drops out of Illinois' 12th District congressional contest
Brad Harriman – a former regional superintendent who won the Democratic nomination to succeed U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello – is dropping out of the race to address “a non-life threatening neurological condition.”
In a statement released by his campaign, Harriman said that after a consultation with his doctor, he was ending his campaign in Illinois’ 12th Congressional District, which includes portions of the Metro East.
The release said that Harriman had lived with a “neurological condition without limitation or noticeable change since 2010, though he began noticing worsening symptoms in May and underwent testing to determine whether his condition had worsened.”
He continued in a statement: “I know in my heart that this decision is in the best interest of the voters of southern Illinois who deserve a candidate that can withstand the pace that this race will require. My condition has noticeably worsened over the course of the campaign to the point that if I do not address it with surgery, I am facing irreparable damage. While it is non-life threatening, I need to address it now."
He added that he had “confidence that the Democratic county chairmen will work together in the most transparent way possible to select a candidate that will continue to fight for the southern Illinois way of life."
The Republican nominee, businessman Jason Plummer, issued a statement this afternoon. "My thoughts and prayers go out to Brad and his family as he deals with his medical condition. He had a distinguished career as an educator and leader in the area, and I wish him the best," Plummer said.
"While I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know him on the campaign trail, this race was never about Brad or myself. This race is about and will be about Southern Illinoisians electing a congressman who will represent their values and fight the ballooning federal government," Plummer continued.
Steve Brown, a spokesman for the Illinois Democratic Party, said county chairmen from within the district will ultimately decide who replaces Harriman on the ballot.
(Start of update) Although Brown said he believed those officials would have 60 days to decide on a replacement, Illinois Board of Elections spokeswoman Bernadette Harrington pointed to a state statute that says, “It shall be filled within eight days after the event creating the vacancy.”
But, she added, that doesn't mean the party would have to decide eight days from now.
"As far as creating the vacancy, I guess they would have to give some official withdrawal of their nomation or declining the nomation or something like that," Harrington said. "Once the party is aware of the vacancy, that is when it's conveyed to us. And then that would probably start the time period." (End of update)
A similar situation occurred in the 13th Congressional District when U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Bloomington, dropped out of the contest after he won the nomination. Republican leaders ultimately tapped Rodney Davis as Johnson’s replacement.
“It’ll be the same process that was used to replace Tim Johnson on the Republican ballot,” Brown said.
Brown said he didn’t know who would replace Harriman. Candidates who declined to run for the seat before the primary included Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern, State's Attorney Brendan Kelly, Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis and state Rep. Jerry Costello II.
The move throws uncertainty in the contest to replace Costello, a Belleville Democrat who announced his retirement last year.
Harriman easily won the Democratic nomination for the seat in February over nominal competition. Plummer emerged victorious in the Republican primary that included former Belleville Mayor Rodger Cook and O’Fallon nurse Theresa Kormos. Political observers see this as a potentially competitive race in which Democrats are not assured of victory.