The man recently considered the top candidate to take over the Republican nomination in Illinois’ 13th Congressional district has been told not to seek the seat… by the long-time incumbent. Jerry Clarke (pictured), former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Urbana), registered the domain name clarkeforcongress.com in February – but Johnson issued a statement this week saying none of his family members or staffers, current or former, should seek the post.
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Habeeb Habeeb, chairman of the Champaign County Republicans, says there wasn’t any “insider trading” going on – even though Clarke registered the domain name weeks before Johnson made his retirement announcement. “I’m not defending it or attacking it, but some people know where they’re heading,” he says. “Domain names can be taken.” A spokesman says Clarke was all along planning to run for Congress when Johnson retired. Johnson’s statement this week caused a rift among some Illinois Republicans, but Habeeb says it remains to be seen whether Johnson has enough pull on this issue. “I’d like to see what the next few days bring, but I think people are independent thinkers.”