GOP County chairmen unanimously support Rep. Jerry Lee Long
State Rep. Jerry Lee Long (R-Streator) will remain on the ballot and has the "complete support" of Illinois Valley Republican officials to do so, despite calls by Illinois House GOP officials to abandon his race for re-election over an anonymous work "harassment" allegation that surfaced Labor Day weekend.
Lasalle County Republican Chairman Donald Jensen, Bureau County Republican Chairman Eldon Entwhistle, Putnam County Republican Chairman Jaye Debates and John McGlasson, Illinois Republican Central Committeeman for the 16th Congressional District, met with Long in Ottawa Tuesday night and decided unanimously that they would continue to back his campaign.
"Jerry has our complete support," said McGlasson. "We're going to do everything we can to get him re-elected."
The Illinois House Republican Organization (HRO), led by House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and the primary financial backer of Illinois House campaigns, announced last weekend it would pull its support from Long, who in 2016 captured a seat that had been held by Democrats for decades by 607 votes out of more than 25,000 cast.
Long defeated incumbent State Rep. Andy Skoog (D-Utica), who was appointed to the seat in Dec. 2015 to replace longtime State Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley), who resigned to become Illinois Auditor General.
Democrat Lance Yednock of Ottawa is challenging Long.
McGlasson said Long told the group that the anonymous allegations made against him are "not valid."
He said HRO is trying to force its conservative members, like Long, into taking "centrist positions" as part of strategy of "uniformity across all state house districts."
"Jerry is a different kind of candidate. He's a union truck driver and a working man. That's a big part of his appeal," McGlasson said.
Long, 57, served in the Air Force after graduating from Burns Union High School in Oregon. He lives in Streator.