ST. LOUIS – The co-chairwoman of a committee that will select a Democratic nominee for a southern Illinois congressional race said Friday the panel will decide early next week on the number of applicants to be publicly interviewed.
Democratic hopefuls for the 12th Congressional District seat had until the close of business Friday to submit questionnaires to apply for a shot at the position being vacated by 11-term Rep. Jerry Costello.
Randolph County Circuit Clerk Barb Brown, who along with Costello is co-chairing the selection panel, said Friday morning that at least four applications had been received. By afternoon, as the cutoff approached, Brown said she could not immediately say whether others had entered the fray, and that it was unlikely the total number of applicants would be made public anyway.
Brown said she would spend part of the weekend packaging the submitted questionnaires and forward them to the committee’s members for review until Monday night, when they’re to decide during a conference call how many of the applicants would advance to public interviews.
“If we have only four or five applicants, perhaps they’ll interview everybody. If we have 10, that may be more than they can manageably interview. That’s their decision,” she said. “This is a momentous decision for us to make. We have to be very deliberate about this.”
Brown said she expected a decision by the end of this month about who would replace previous Democratic nominee Brad Harriman, who cited a worsening, surgery-requiring neurological condition for abruptly quitting the race against Republican lumber company executive Jason Plummer last month.
As of Friday, only William Enyart was known to have publicly declared his candidacy for the seat, having stepped down last week after five years heading the Illinois National Guard. Enyart, who has never held elected public office, said this week that transitioning to public service in Congress seemed natural after 35 years of military service.
Plummer said last week after Enyart’s resignation from the Illinois National Guard that he looked forward to having “serious, civil discussions” with whoever became Harriman’s replacement. Plummer has declined requests since to weigh in on the Democrats’ selection process.
As part of that, each of the district’s county Democratic heads has a weighted say based on how many Democratic votes were cast in the March primary election in their counties, with Costello and Brown on the panel to break any tie votes.
Messages left Friday by The Associated Press for the Democratic Party’s top officials in St. Clair and Madison counties — two of the district’s most populous counties — were not returned.
Only two men, both Democrats, have represented the 12th District since World War II. The district stretches from the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis to the state’s southernmost tip and encompasses a large swath of a chronically economically stressed territory.